Managing Difficult Clients from a Meeting Planner Perspective

Original Blog Credit: http://bit.ly/2zoTrRS
By: Todd
 
Let’s face it: meeting planning is a service-oriented business, so there will be times when you will encounter a difficult client. Although 90% of your clients will likely be wonderful, it’s how you handle the other 10% that will determine whether or not you will become a successful meeting planner. Solving difficult problems and managing challenging situations are simply part of the job. Whether you have a know-it-all client or a client who keeps changing their mind, we wanted to offer you a few suggestions to successfully manage these and other difficult clients.
 
Be a Good Listener

The best thing you can do is to listen closely to what the client says and take notes. Ask a lot of questions and repeat their answers to them, so everyone is on the same page. Many meeting planners email their notes to their clients as well, which not only provides assurance that they heard them correctly, but provides them with a record they can go back to. If they change their mind or say they wanted something different, you can at least have these notes available.
 
Set Your Own Ground Rules

Although you work for the client, the relationship must be professional at all times. The best way to establish boundaries is to set up basic ground rules up front. For example, you might want to establish a cut-off time for which the client can call you. How many meeting planners out there have been woken up by a frantic midnight call from a client about something that could have easily been handled in the morning? In most cases, the client will accept these rules – especially if you’re able to deliver.
 
Anticipate What They’re Going to Want Next

The best meeting planners will be able to read a difficult client, notice specific behavioral patterns, and anticipate what they’ll want next. For example, if your client is concerned about finding meeting locations, present them with a list of venues that coincide with what they said in previous discussions before they ask for it. By providing solutions before you’re even asked, you’ll be better able to win the client over.
 
Know When to Walk Away

The truth is that some clients simply won’t work out no matter what you do. It is easier to sever an agreement before a contract is signed and the wheels of the project start to go into motion. In your initial discussions with a potential client, assess if you believe you will be able to work together. In many cases, you will even if it will be difficult. However, in some cases, the best thing for both of you will be to suggest someone else to plan the meeting. 
 

Effective Ways to Make Your Event More Interactive

Original Blog Credit: http://bit.ly/2z51vGW
By: Todd 


When planning a conference in your industry, there will be many different factors that will figure into its success. Some are obvious. You’ll want to choose an event venue that has enough space for all attendees, speakers, and vendors. The location should have ample lodging for out-of-town guests, and it should have a variety of dining options too. The event will need to include thought leaders in the industry, relevant vendors that offer products and services attendees will be interested in, and a variety of attractions that will keep everyone engaged.

So how can event organizers facilitate active engagement? To answer this question, we thought it would be a good idea to cite some tips that some of the leading marketers have written about recently. In order for an event to be successful, organizers will not only have to promote interactivity during the event, but in the months before and after it as well. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind from the experts themselves:
 
Engagement Begins Before the Event Even Starts
 
Thomas Pauly wrote a blog post for Certain.com that discussed how event planners and marketers should consider what they do before an event as this will influence how excited people are. He suggests that those in charge of marketing and planning should first construct a blog post to introduce people to the event. This allows prospective attendees to learn important event information and begin sharing that info with others. Another way, he writes, to create engagement pre-event is by starting up a hashtag that can serve as a hub for content about the event. Finally, organizers should keep room design in mind to promote engagement and encourage participation. 

Facilitate Stronger Audience Interaction
 
The basic PowerPoint presentation is not going to cut it in 2017. Audiences are looking to be wow’d. sli.do audience specialists suggest that event organizers hire a professional moderator to keep things flowing and act as the go-between for speakers and audience members. Another point to consider is eliminating the presentation altogether and, instead, going with a Q&A and interview session. Finally, some event organizers are increasing audience interaction by using tools that gather questions so there is never an awkward pause during a Q&A. Collaborative post-presentation sessions are also becoming increasingly popular as they enable audience members to participate and discuss what they heard and saw.

Continue the Conversation after the Event

Once the conference is over, the discussion doesn’t have to end. Jenny Stanfield writes in EventManagerBlog about the importance of keeping the excitement and conversation going after the event. Organizers can make sure the event goes on by applying parts of the discussion to social media and creating a Google Hangout or informal meet-ups inspired by the main event. Stanfield also suggests that organizers create a contest pertaining to the event, asking participants to talk about what they liked and how they used what they learned in their own profession. 
 

10 Wedding Photos You Must Have


Everything you've heard is true: Your wedding day comes and goes so quickly. That's why preparation is key. Once you nail down your photographer (do this 9-11 months in advance!), it's time to start thinking about your shot list. While your photographer will guide you on the moments they plan on capturing, it's important to know exactly what you want too. After all, you'll want to keep these memories intact with the perfect photo album. Get ready for your close-up by taking a look at these pretty picture ideas you might want to include.
 
1. Ring Shot



2. Glam Squad



3. Hair Moment



4. Moments before the First Look



5. Ceremony Views



6. Escort Cards



7. Centerpieces



8. First Dance



9. The Cake



10. 4-Legged Party Members



Check out the Original Blog "26 Must-Have Wedding Photos You Don't Want to Miss" here: https://www.theknot.com/content/must-have-wedding-photos

Written by Amanda Casertano

 

Tips to Feel and Look Confident


 
Speaking in front of a large crowd, interviewing for a reputable company, meeting the parents for the first time, are all extremely nerve-wracking experiences. No matter how much we prepare ourselves, sometimes we just crumble under the pressure and feel helpless. Fortunately, there are ways to convince others and even yourself that you are confident, prepared, and genuine. Listed below are some body language cues that can help yourself and others believe you are fearless.
 

 
1. Prepare yourself by looking in the mirror and practicing dominant poses
 

Push your shoulders back, stand up straight, lift your chin up and give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. These gestures have been proved to physiologically impact you and can give you the extra boost for reassurance right before an intimidating interview or speech.
 
2. Eye contact
 
 
It is important to make eye contact with your audience whether it be one person or a hundred people. Looking at your shoes or staring at the clock can disengage and distract the audience. Friendly eye contact can show that you’re effortlessly confident and make the situation less awkward and more enjoyable.

3. Use hand gestures and don’t fidget

Fidgeting not only distracts your audience but also shows your anxious tendencies. It’s hard to stop chewing on your lip, shaking your leg, putting your hands in and out of your pocket but these are signs that clearly show lack of confidence. To prevent these nervous habits from exposing your insecurities during an interview, practice hand gestures. Don’t overwhelm your audience with excessive hand gestures as that can lead to distract them. Using a moderate amount and necessary amount of hand gestures from time to time can help engage your audience and portray enthusiasm.

4. Smile
 
Depending on the situation, smiling can help communicate to your audience that you are comfortable in your own skin and happy to be there. Practice your smile in the mirror and try to be as genuine as possible.

5. Speak at a comfortable pace
 
Speaking fast is a common nervous habit. However, this is one of the easier ones to fix with minimal practice. Speaking slow helps the audience understand more clearly but it can also help you think more thoroughly as well. Taking pauses when you’ve been speaking at a moderate pace can help you retract thoughts without seeming awkward.

7 Honeymoon Locations to Consider

Honeymoons come in all shapes and sizes and are based more on the couple's joint personality than on tradition. This list is just a snapshot of 10 of the world's hottest honeymoon destinations, from sunny beaches to snowcapped mountains and even fairy-tale theme parks.
1. Camino Real Acapulco Diamante

 
Once the honeymoon destination for John and Jackie Kennedy, Acapulco is still a popular place for newlyweds celebrating their new life together. Temperatures hover in the 80s throughout the year, and the warm water is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. As if that's not enough to tempt you, the prices in Acapulco are affordable and can allow for an unforgettable honeymoon even on a tight budget. The Camino Real offers well-designed rooms overlooking the private Pichilingue Beach, as well as fine dining and a variety of activities. The hotel's convenient location allows guests to appreciate the clubs of Acapulco by night and the natural beauty of the beaches by day.
 
2. The Bellagio Hotel

So maybe you didn't escape to Las Vegas to elope, but who says you can't celebrate your nuptials in this hot destination? Vegas is an ideal place for newlyweds looking for an action-packed and exciting honeymoon that still allows for the option of being pampered, all for a reasonable price. The Bellagio Hotel offers fine accommodations and a fun nightlife, plus gourmet dining, stunning gardens, an elaborate pool complex, a first-class spa and even fine art on display. Las Vegas' romantic side is undeniable, and the whirlwind of available activities is sure to provide an unforgettable vacation.
3. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Prefer to spend this precious time with your honey making snow angels rather than slathering on sunscreen? Situated on the edge of the glacier-fed Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau offers an abundance of winter sports, creating a heavenly honeymoon haven for snow bunnies. The wide variety of winter activities includes downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as snowshoeing, ice skating and even dogsledding. Guests can get pampered in the hotel's spa and then set off for a romantic sleigh ride into the wilderness. The idyllic lake setting makes the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise a popular honeymoon spot even in the warmer months, when guests can take advantage of the resort's outdoor activities, which include horseback riding, white-water rafting and hiking
4. Amankila

Even savvy world travelers can find fresh and enchanting destinations to celebrate a new life together — it just may require some more time onboard. One such spot is tucked away on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Amankila translates to "peaceful hill," and this popular resort meets the expectations of its name. Overlooking the Lombok Strait in East Bali, the Amankila offers stunning views of the sea and a lovely 3-tiered pool. A day away from the resort promises an experience of rich culture steeped in religious tradition at one of the island's 10,000 temples
 
5. The St. Regis Florence

If it's romance you're looking for, a trip to Florence, Italy, guarantees starry eyes, hearty meals, amazing art and much more. Like a room with a view? Housed in a former 18th-century palace overlooking the Arno River, the St. Regis Florence is oozing with Florentine culture. Rooms are still fit for royalty, decorated with frescoes and marble. The hotel is ideally situated near the picture-worthy Duomo cathedral, the splendid Uffizi Gallery and the shops at Ponte Vecchio. This need not be the only stop on a Mediterranean adventure, and many honeymooners may choose to travel on to other Italian hot spots, such as Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast.
 
6. Caneel Bay Resort

Located in the 5,000-acre Virgin Islands National Park, Caneel Bay Resort is surrounded by 7 beaches and offers a wide range of pampering and activities. A visit to Honeymoon Beach is a must for all lovebirds. Some rooms have ocean views and patios that open right onto the beach, while the resort's most extravagant lodging option is a private cottage. Daytime entertainment includes relaxing on the beach, scuba diving, kayaking and taking yoga-for-2 classes. The food is top-notch, and the Beach Terrace offers the highly praised grand buffet on Monday nights
7. Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa

Nestled on a powder-white beach and a crystal-blue lagoon, Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa invites newlyweds to revel in post-wedding privacy in bungalows perched above the water on high stilts. Take a romantic dip or snorkel anytime right from the swimming platform. And with full views of the lagoon, you can catch a surreal sunrise without leaving your room. Couples can relax and be pampered at the resort’s Hina Spa, which overlooks the lagoon with breathtaking panoramic views.


Check out the full and original blog here: http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/romance-and-honeymoons/articles/top-10-honeymoon-destinations

Written by: Valerie Conners
 

Don't Ignore Your 30th Birthday



Turning 30 is a dreadful moment for most adults. You’re no longer in your twenties but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. No one can change how you feel about your 30th birthday, but you can! So here are some ways you can celebrate it to make this birthday experience a bit less miserable.


When you turn 30 and start thinking about everything you haven’t accomplished, stop yourself and think about everything you have accomplished and what you still wish to accomplish. Everyone has a bucket list and whether it be skydiving, traveling, buying that car or handbag you’ve always wanted, just do it. Your 30th birthday should be about reflection and change.



Whether you’re feeling happy or sad about the big 30, no one regrets contributing to charity work. Helping individuals and watching your efforts positively impact people’s lives is unforgettable. Invite your friends to celebrate your 30th birthday doing charity work. It’ll have you all leaving with a positive attitude and experience.




Sometimes you just need time to accept the change. Invite all your friends over for a pajama party with some junk food, beer, and old movies. Stay up all night talking about all your hilariously crazy life experiences and memories. Enjoying a night like this with all your loved ones is necessary every once in a while.



Maybe it's best you don't pick up your old college habits of reckless partying, but wine tastings are a great way to stay classy and still have a fun and wild time with your friends. Rent a chauffeur for the day, so you're a responsible adult living up to the expectations of a truly thirsty thirty birthday.


Credit: https://www.ranker.com/list/30th-birthday-ideas/samantha-dillinger

 

5 Trending Wedding Dresses for Spring 2017

Like many other trends, wedding dresses also have trends that come and go. Keep scrolling to see which hot trends are staying for Spring 2017.

1. Bridal Capes

If veils just aren't your thing, then give bridal capes a try. Wear the cape for your ceremony and whisk it away to reveal a different look for your reception.  

2. High Collars

Is it a surprise high collar wedding dresses are back in when turtle necks and mock necks have been trending? Certainly not a coincidence! An updo perfectly complements this high collar trend.

3. Deep V Necklines


Deep V-Neckline dresses not only elongates your frame but also flatters your upper body. Ladies, this ultra-feminine look is a must-try.

4. Streamer Sleeves


Want to draw more attention to you and your dress on your special day? Consider wearing a wedding dress with streamer sleeves. The movement of the sleeves when walking down the aisle will guarantee every eye on you.

5. Bows


Need an over-the-top feminine detail? Make a dramatic exit with a large bow on your train, or add some structure and accentuate your waist with a bow sash.

 
Original Source:  https://www.theknot.com/content/bridal-fashion-week-spring-2017-trends
Written by: Shelley Brown

 

Need Help Deciding Who Makes the Wedding Guest-List Cut?



 
Wedding planning can become extremely stressful. In fact, if you’re in the middle of planning a wedding as you’re reading this, there are probably hundreds of possible disastrous scenarios running through your mind right about now. Since there already is enough to stress about when it comes to planning a wedding, let’s discuss how you can avoid inviting everyone you know in an effort to please them.

The reality of your guest list is that it is nearly impossible to please everyone. There are many complications that may come with the guest list. Some couples receive financial support from their parents, which allow their parents to invite a certain percentage of guests to the wedding. If that’s the case, try to focus on the number of guests you and your fiancé can invite.

Here are 5 questions you can consider when deciding whether this person makes the guest cut list:

1. Would you be offended if you weren’t invited to this person’s wedding?

2. Have you talked to this person in the past year?

3. Would not inviting this person do more harm than good?

4. Are you inviting this person just to make someone else happy? (And is that someone else worth it?)

5. What will the long-term repercussions be if you don’t invite this person?

Think these guidelines through and make the best decision you and your fiancé can make. After you ask yourself these questions, you should be able to see if this person is worth inviting. In the end of the day, this is a special day for you two. The main focus should not be how happy everyone else is. What matters most is that this wedding day is exactly as you imagined it to be.
 
Check out the original article: https://withjoy.com/blog/wedding-guest-list-tips/

Reshaping Event Planning with Technology Trends


There’s no question that technology has changed the way we do many things in life. Meeting and event planning is no exception. I’m sure you can imagine just how much of an impact technology has made on event planning. Here are some specific and technical changes in the professional meeting and event planning.

Crowd Streaming:
 Crowd streaming is basically live-streaming on a large scale. Five years ago, it would have been very difficult for individuals to broadcast their experiences at an event. This is no longer the case as you can see. You can now crowd stream to people all over the world through various mobile apps, such as Facebook live, Snapchat, Periscope, and more. It allows your event to be seen from the perspective of the attendee, adding a level of authenticity. Encourage your guests to crowd stream and spotlight your event.

RFID Technology: Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves to track and identify objects. It is frequently used in inventory management. However, it is also used in a wide variety of other applications, including event planning. Everything from registration and check-in’s to social media engagement and contest sign-ups can all be done using RFID technology. Event planners can also use RFID technology for quantitative and qualitative data analysis to determine what works and what might need improvement for future events.

Event Apps:
 The days of the thick event binder could be in the past very soon. More event planners are using event apps to present itineraries, panel information, speaker bios, and more in a convenient manner on one’s phone or tablet. I’m sure you’ve had a glimpse of this if you’ve utilized event planning on Facebook even for a simple and small friend gathering. However, it’s important to know that these apps can be expensive so they must provide use to guests after the event is over to realize their full value.

Wearable Technology and Virtual Reality:
 Wearable technology is already well-known to the public, but we are only starting to see the benefits event planners experience using it. Wearable technology can be used for everything from registration and facial recognition to food and beverage selection, completely changing the logistics of an event. Virtual reality booths are a cool way to present information and provide answers to questions attendees might have.

If you found this content interesting head on over to Uniquevenues.com to read more about venues that can accommodate these needs.

Original Source: https://www.uniquevenues.com/blog/what-are-some-technology-trends-are-reshaping-event-planning
 

Engagement Rings For Dummies


Just like us humans, engagement rings come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Trying to understand every aspect of all the rings that exist and is yet to exist, may take too long .  So let us run through the basics of “Choosing a Diamond” that everyone should know when shopping for an Engagement ring. Are you excited? You should be!

Briefly listed below are the 5 general steps to buy the perfect ring. For more in depth information about each step, visit the source of this article, brilliantearth.com, linked at the bottom.

5 Steps to Buy the Perfect Ring:

 
1. Set a Budget
2. Choose a Diamond (Keep reading to learn about this step)
3. Select a Ring
4. Metal Options
5. Find Ring Size
 
RING SHAPES
NOTE: it may be helpful to know that round diamonds are by far the most popular choice due to their incredible brilliance, fire, and light performance. Round brilliant diamonds make up about three-quarters of all diamond purchases, and offer maximum sparkle.

The 4 C’s
 
Carat:  Many people start with size, as this is the most visually apparent aspect of a diamond. Keep in mind that a carat is actually a unit of weight, but it can be used as an approximation for the size of a diamond. You may find the measurements of a diamond another useful indication of the actual dimensions, as seen face up.


 
Cut: The most important quality characteristic of a round brilliant diamond is the cut, which impacts the brilliance, fire, and scintillation of the diamond. With round brilliant diamonds, the cut is easy to assess because it is formally graded by independent diamond laboratories. For other diamond shapes, the cut is much more subjective. Cut grades, if given, are more arbitrary. For engagement rings, we typically recommend round brilliant diamonds with a cut grade of very good, ideal, or super ideal. Choosing a high cut grade maximizes the beauty of a diamond for a given carat weight.


 
Color: most people prefer a colorless or white diamond, or at least a color that is not very detectable to the untrained eye. With engagement rings, the most common color grade selection for the center diamond is F-H color.
 
 
Clarity: Clarity is usually the characteristic determined last, given it has the least impact on a diamond’s appearance. Some diamonds graded “SI2” or “SI1” do have visible inclusions, but at Brilliant Earth we will contact you if the diamond you have chosen has an inclusion that we can see with the naked eye. Many Brilliant Earth customers choose the “VS2” or “SI1” clarity grades for the center diamond of their engagement ring. A few customers for whom clarity is important go as high as the “IF” or the “VVS” clarity grades.
After learning about the 4 C's, the engagement ring shopping should be much smoother. Although there are more factors involved in deciding on the perfect ring than just choosing the diamond, the metal options are less complex and or difficult to understand.
 
Original Source: https://www.brilliantearth.com/how-to-buy-an-engagement-ring/

5 Spooktacular Reasons to Propose on Halloween


Halloween is a day full of mystery and surprise, but the ultimate surprise just may be a proposal. If your partner adores Halloween, and by that I mean, he or she starts putting up Halloween decorations in September, loves to watch all the scary movies that exist, and enjoys eating chicken fingers that look like actual bloody fingers, a proposal on Halloween may be the way to go. Now many of you are probably wondering how a proposal on Halloween could be successful; so here are five reasons proposing on Halloween shouldn’t be an underrated move.
 
 
1. Your partner won’t expect it

As long as you’re not too nervous and unconsciously dropping too many subtle hints that the proposal is coming, your partner is probably too busy preparing for Halloween that the thought of a proposal will completely slip his or her mind. Not many people hear about proposals happening on Halloween and that’s because it is secretly the best way to do it. Proposing on a jumbo screen at a sports game is nice but there are probably at least 50 people in the audience thinking this may be their potential proposal.



2. It’s easy to dress for the occasion

One of the best reasons to be in a relationship on Halloween is for the couple costumes; they are so entertaining and adorable. Dress up as your favorite celebrity couple, or your favorite Disney prince and princess, or food pairings that will always go well together. What better proposal pic than to be dressed that you’re obviously perfect for each other!



3. The proposal ideas are endless

Finding a ring in your champagne glass or biting into your cake can be exciting and romantic, but for true Halloween fans, spelling out the big question in lighted carved pumpkins, zombies serenading your partner, or scary dolls screaming out the question in unison just might make your partner laugh, cry, and scream all at the same time. A proposal is always going to be heartwarming and exciting but wouldn’t it be a little more adventurous to invoke a little bit of fear and laughter to it?
 
 
4. Now you’re right on time for Holiday Cards

Now that you’re engaged to the love of your life, (hooray!) you’ll be right on time to send your families and loved ones the ultimate hilariously cheesy holiday cards.  You’ve only got three weeks until Thanksgiving and only a month after that until Christmas, so you two better get busy mailing those delightful cards.
 
 
5. The holiday you two loved just got more lovable

Halloween was already a day of joy and thrill for you two and you probably couldn’t have imagined it getting any better. Well, no need for imagining, because the love of your life said yes to spending the rest of his or her life with you on this glorious holiday revolving around monsters and the souls of the dead.
 

How to Hire a Quality Keynote Speaker


Picture: https://www.missioalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/keynote-speaker.jpg
Original Blog: http://blog.events.com/event-planning/how-to-hire-a-quality-keynote-speaker
Written By: Sarah Hovis

If we’re honest, a huge selling point when figuring out whether or not to attend a conference depends on who the keynote speaker will be. As a planner, when hiring your keynote speaker, what you can afford will factor in to your decision. That being said, you should also:

Look at the role the speaker will have in your conference (e.g., motivational/inspirational or trend expert).
Think about why you’re hiring a keynote speaker and the results you’d like to achieve (e.g., educate, promote awareness, or inform/entertain).

Forbes.com contributor Micah Solomna asked Dr. Nick Morgan, one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches for his advice on how to hire a quality keynote speaker.

Mistakes to Avoid
Scheduling keynotes during a meal—or right after one. The meal and the speaker should never be in competition for the attendee’s attention.

Asking to see the keynote’s presentation ahead of time and then distributing it to your attendees. Keep an element of surprise!

Best Practices to Keep in Mind
Add a dynamic emcee or host (Note: this person is not your keynote speaker) to interact with the audience throughout the day, create opportunities for interaction, and ensure that things don’t fall between the cracks.

Build in some breaks. Think of how much more you can accomplish if you create networking opportunities outside of mealtime.  

Booking and Fees

Book your speakers at least six months out. That gives you a better chance of getting quality speakers you can adequately promote.

Fees will vary by speaker. For example: a published author could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 or more, while a New York Times bestselling author is $40,000 and up. And always remember that travel expenses are additional. One final piece of advice for planners: don’t try to nickel-and-dime the speakers. Think of what you’re spending on the venue, food and drinks, rooms, etc., and you’ll understand why trying to shave off a few dollars from the speaker’s fee is counterproductive.
 

The 5 Wedding Menu Rules Every Couple Should Follow


Written by Lauren Rodrigue;
Wedding Wire https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/wedding-menu-rules
Photo: https://img1.etsystatic.com/138/1/11298940/il_fullxfull.1008794715_nvuj.jpg

Wardrobe, florals, invitations, first dance…all of these are amazing ways to let your and your partner’s true personalities shine through at your wedding. But did you know your wedding menu is another amazing way to showcase your great taste on your big day? (Pun intended!) An artfully curated wedding menu can expertly exude who you both are while also pleasing the diverse preferences of your guests and be totally memorable—but beware, making your wedding reception food too personal might be off-putting to some guests.

There’s a way to find a balance between pleasing your guests and catering to your own tastes—here’s some advice on creating an amazing wedding menu.

Offer options.

Keep in mind that your wedding menu should reflect your tastes and preferences, not cater solely to them—after all, your wedding food is more or less a gift to your guests to thank them for taking the time to come celebrate you and your partner. It isn’t all about you—so even if you’re both die-hard vegetarians, you should still offer an option for carnivores, since you’ll likely have many in attendance. If one of you has a certain intolerance, like gluten, it’s totally OK to offer wedding food ideas that are gluten- (or whatever-) free, but there’s no need to craft a completely gluten free menu (your caterers should know how to handle preparing food for people with intolerances safely and securely—make sure you talk this over with them in detail before you sign the contract!). Work with your caterers to let your wedding menu highlight your preferences, rather than be steamrolled by them—for example, if you’re vegetarian, let the vegetarian dish take top billing and offer something meat-oriented as a second choice.

Stay grounded.

Maybe you and your partner are total foodies, but that doesn’t mean that your whole wedding menu should be made up of items no one on your guest list has never heard of before. Besides celebrating love, people go to weddings for two things: food and fun (“fun” being the open bar, usually…). Regardless of your exotic tastes, you shouldn’t make the “food” part a struggle for your guests to get through—not everyone is excited by escargot or thinks truffle foam is #dinnergoals. Further, if people will be doing a lot of drinking, the food should be substantial enough to soak up all that liquor, and super-fancy food that half the guest list is afraid of won’t make the cut. Instead, share with your caterers that you and your partner love adventurous eating and would like to incorporate that creatively (and sparingly) into your wedding menu. The safest places to do so would be during cocktail hour or as sides during dinner. That way, you can have some delicious classics alongside more unique picks, and everyone can get their fill how they like, while maybe trying one or two new things they’ve never tasted before. Remember, really well-made, thoughtful, simple food never goes out of style, so when in doubt, don’t put trendiness over time-tested favorites.

Be realistic about timing.

Love the idea of a super-late dinner? Or a super drawn-out one that takes up most of your reception? Maybe you want food to be the main event because you and your partner love food as much as you love one another (or, almost as much), but it’s important to be thoughtful and courteous of your guests when it comes to figuring out the scheduling of your cocktail hour and meal. The bottom line is, wedding guests become hangry very easily. As is expected, as they’re essentially beholden to you as their only source of food and hydration for an eight hour block of time! You can expect much from a wedding guest—like asking them to stand in the rain and still be happy to watch you exchange vows, or dance like no one’s watching in 100,000-degree weather—but you cannot expect them to wait till 11pm to eat when they’ve had nothing but canapes at 3pm and champagne… since. So, time things kindly. Want a late dinner? Have a second round of passed appetizers between cocktail hour and the main event to tide people over. Or have your full dinner at regular dinnertime, then offer a fun late-night meal for those still partying and in need of refueling. If you’re thinking of a lengthy, many-course experience for dinner, start a little earlier so servers aren’t plating food while people are going crazy to "Uptown Funk" on the dance floor. Fine dining and wedding dancing just don’t mix, and it’s not fun for guests to have to switch gears between dancing and dining to avoid FOMO.

Make the wedding reception food fit the mood.

So, you were dying to have a ballroom wedding, but you’re also dying to have a pizza truck cater it. My first piece of advice is “do whatever you want,” but if you’re really concerned with guest experience, it may behoove you to try and make the fare match the venue a little more closely. Guests showing up to a formal wedding are expecting—and dressed for—a formal dinner. Likewise, guests attending a rustic barn wedding probably are expecting something a little more low key and casual (and don’t necessarily want a fine dining experience fit a Michelin star restaurant). The best caterers today are creative and innovative, and can take your inspiration—whatever it is—and make it fit your venue, as long as you’re clear about what you want and have vision. Love the idea of pizza at your formal affair? Ask your caterer to serve fancy flatbreads as a starter. Want to dial up the elegance of your menu at your camp wedding without making it feel out of place? Explore classics with a modern, refined twist.

Set the right scene.

A quick anecdote for this one—my now-husband and I devised an amazing wedding menu with our caterer that I’m still proud of a year out from our wedding (maybe I should move on? I dunno). I felt it fit our personalities perfectly, and our rustic venue, too—there was a local salad, fried chicken, tomato pie, and more. Everything was delicious, and everyone raved about it! The one thing that didn’t work? The bamboo utensils I selected based purely on appearance, which cracked in half as people attempted to cut their crispy chicken, and were totally useless for picking up tender salad greens! Looking back, we all laugh at the cacophony of fork-snapping sounds that accompanied our amazing dinner, but also, I totally regret putting style over substance when it came to picking out our table settings. The truth is, you can plan a masterful wedding menu, but if you let your vision take over and aren’t strategic about the servingware and settings you provide, or renting enough of whatever you need, or even the way you seat tables (i.e., making sure not to cram people together!), your guests’ dining experience can be compromised. Which means that food you put so much thought into? Totally overshadowed. The best way to make sure this won’t happen is to talk over your dinnerware, servingware and table setup ideas with your caterer—after all, who better to ask how their food should be served?—then let their insights guide the choices you make. (Rather than letting your Pinterest board guide you.)



 

8 Things Grooms Should Do Before Heading to the Altar



When your wedding day rolls around the corner, you’ll feel excited, emotional and maybe even a bit nervous. With so much going on, it can be easy to overlook the tiny last-minute details, but there are few important things you won’t want to forget.

Grooms, before you make your way to the altar, be sure to check these things off your list!

Final vow read-through
If you wrote your own wedding vows, you probably know what you’re going to say by this point, but even the most well-rehearsed groom can be struck with a case of the butterflies seconds before walking down the aisle. Find a quiet spot where you can do one last skim through your vows and spend a few moments collecting your thoughts.

Grab a snack
Hopefully you’ve had a meal or two throughout the day, but it’s not a bad idea to eat something small shortly before the ceremony. Try to avoid foods that are messy, greasy or could risk staining your attire. Granola bars, nuts, and pretzels are a few good options. While you’re at it, drink a glass of water so you stay hydrated for the ceremony.

Use the restroom
You know what your parents used to say: “Even if you don’t think you have to go, you should.” That rule applies on your wedding day, too. Take a bathroom break before the ceremony, especially since it might be a few hours before you have another free moment to yourself. Also use this as an opportunity to freshen your breath so you’re ready for the first kiss as newlyweds.

Do a mirror check

Take a final look in the mirror and fix any last-minute adjustments that need to be made. Tighten your shoelaces, check your teeth, straighten your tie, and flatten those stray hairs that are poking up from your head. Ask a groomsman or family member to do a quick once-over to catch any snags, stains, belt loops, or loose shirttails that you might have missed.

Secure the rings
Even if you aren’t the one carrying the rings, you should know exactly where they are. Double-check with your best man and/or ring bearer to make sure that the rings are in their proper place. If they’re being carried in a box or tied to a pillow, make sure they’re safe and sound before being sent down the aisle.

Know your route
At the start of the ceremony, it’s tradition for the groom to escort his mother, grandmother or other relative to a reserved seat before taking his place at the altar. It’s pretty self-explanatory and you’ll get to practice during the wedding rehearsal, but it might be helpful to do a quick mental refresh so you remember where you need to go.

Turn your phone off
First, ask yourself if you actually need to have your phone with you during the ceremony (anyone who needs to get ahold of you should already know where you are). If you decide that it’s a must, be sure to put your phone on silent—even the vibrate setting could disrupt the ceremony. You might also consider handing your phone over to a trusty groomsman who can hold it for you, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Take a deep breath
It’s normal to be nervous, but if you feel like the wedding day jitters are getting the best of you, take a deep breath to clear your mind. Give yourself a pep talk and remember what the wedding is all about. At the end of the day, it won’t matter if you stumble over your vows or have shaky hands as you’re exchanging rings. You’re marrying the love of your life, and what could be better than that? Focus on soaking in the moment and everything will work out as it should.

Credit:
Original Blog -- Written by Samantha Iacia; Wedding Wire; https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/8-things-grooms-must-do-before-heading-to-the-altar

Picture: http://aisleperfect.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/groom-and-groomsmen-ideas.png

 

Appetizer Ideas for Your Cocktail Hour to Make Sure Everyone Tries Everything

We’ve all been to those cocktail parties with the same-old traditional finger food appetizers. You know them by heart: pigs in blankets, chips and dip, a fruit bowl, etcetera, etcetera. There’s nothing wrong with these dishes either—I myself am a huge pig-in-blanket fan and don’t plan on ever turning down one of those little, juicy bad boys—but they leave you bored and mindlessly munching until the main course is ready.

Your party should never have a dull moment, so here are some prepared foods to make sure it doesn’t:

Sandwiches

Mini Grilled Cheeses
Ah an ole classic from childhood. Its an easy step-by-step, ready?: Take your regular-sized gilled cheese sandwich and shrink it down to finger-food size. Then, unless you’re a strict traditionalist, throw some bling on those ‘wiches with red chili flakes, mushrooms, basil, and/or arugula. Ta-da! A childhood classic thrown through puberty for your unforgettable reception!

Deviled Egg Sandwiches
Looking for something a bit lighter with fewer calories? Consider these tasty bites that give a more relaxed mood to your cocktail party. A pretty basic how-to: 4 eggs, 2 tbsp. mayo, ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce, ¼ tsp. paprika, chives, 1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, salt n pepper. Throw some of that between two slices of white bread and fin!

Deli Sandwiches
Here’s another classic. Deli meats with cheese and appropriate accessories provide a reliable fallback plan for potential guests who are looking for good old healthy protein basics. Of course, we’ve already established that we’re not about to have a boring cocktail hour, so keep these interesting by offering options with a multitude of options. Turkey, ham, salami—sure—hot pastrami, corned beef, grilled chicken, YES! American, cheddar—ok—Munster, swiss, provolone, GREAT! Be sure to have sauces and mayos on hand too for an extra perk.

Cups & Bites

Blue Cheese & Steak Bites
A personal favorite of mine—because steak—and it’s relatively quick to prep. Start with tiny, toasted, garlic breads sliced and topped with salty blue cheese and medium to medium-rare pieces of steak. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction and finito!

Stuffed Shells
A little messier but they pack a truckload of taste. You know those shell-shaped pastas? Find the jumbo ones and cook those to al dente. Fill ‘em with prosciutto, asparagus, garlic powder, and cheese (I suggest mozzarella, parmigiana, and ricotta). They’re SO worth some messy fingers after eating!


Cajun Shrimp & Guac Bites
Calling all avocado fans! I’ve never tried this one but I’ll be damned if I don’t go home and cook some tonight. All on a sweet potato cracker: your favorite guacamole recipe with a single large shrimp seasoned with chipotle chili, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. I mean, look how good that looks!:

Spinach Dip Bites
This is sure to get the kiddies to eat their vegetables. You’re making a dip out of artichoke hearts, garlic, spinach, peppers, cream cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. Scoop that into a bunch of crescent dough cups. A cute and an easy way to sneak some healthiness into all the cake and cheese eating!

Forks

Teriyaki Salmon
To start of our section of finger-foods-you-can’t-really-eat-with-your-fingers, or “Forks” as I like to call it, we have salmon bites that look so good I’m jealous I’m writing about them instead of eating them but it’s fine. You can serve these alongside steamed vegetables to make this appetizer into a mini-meal. One word of caution though, the reviews on these bites are so good, you might want to make sure your guests don’t fill up entirely on them.

Mozzarella, pepperoni, and olive bites
This app will be a nice change from the one above, where it will be much more difficult to fill up on, but will keep your party guests busy and talking. You can change-up the order you stick these on a toothpick, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll stick with olive on top, pepperoni in the middle, and mozzarella cube on the bottom. Easy, budget-conscious, and of course, taste bud-friendly.

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites
You didn’t really think that we’d go through this entire post without mentioning bacon did you? These wrapped little guys are as easy as they sound too! Step 1: Cook potatoes, step 2: dice potatoes, step 3: season potatoes, step 4: wrap seasoned potatoes with bacon, step 5: spear with a fork or toothpick. Done!

Shooters

Tomato Soup Shots
To wrap everything up, we’re gonna head back to our early companion, the grilled cheese sandwich. But here’s the twist: the grilled cheese is only a compliment to what is actually the appetizer. Pair the sandwich bites with a quick shot of tomato soup (Just make sure you try to use a soup other than Campbell’s). Another childhood classic all grown up!

Picture credits: http://cf.runningtothekitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Blue-Cheese-Steak-Crostini-2-optimized.jpg
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Plot Twist: Brunch Weddings!


More and more couples are opting for wedding receptions in the morning, in place of the traditional evening affair for various reasons. Choosing brunch instead of dinner can considerably lower the catering and venue expenses. Or it could be so they want a unique wedding twist, or even so that they can set off on their honeymoon early and enjoy more time together.
Whatever be the reason, reception brunches work well when planned and executed properly. In fact, wedding reception brunches are convenient, and your guests will enjoy the function.
Here is a quick and easy guide to getting the little details for your wedding reception brunch perfect.

Keep the atmosphere friendly instead of formal
Unlike the formal plated dinner, brunches have a casual air. This allows you to have a more intimate gathering and enjoy quality time with your guests. The ideal location for a wedding brunch is outdoors, so plan your seating to utilize the beauty of the natural setting. Outdoor wedding brunches are ideal in spring or fall, when the weather is pleasant and the beautiful landscape adds a natural charm to your wedding. Plan the décor so it works well in natural lighting, and add elements like fresh flowers or vividly colored balloons that are casual, yet colorful.
Winter brides can also benefit from reception brunches, as the evenings are usually dark and depressing and daytime is more refreshing. Consider warming up your venue with a log fire and decorating with holly and mistletoe. Add to this, an enchanting white backdrop, and you will have a fairytale wedding to remind your guests of your lifetime event.

Plan your food choices wisely
A formal food service may seem out of place during the day. Opt for an interesting buffet instead. Include food choices that allow your guests to eat well, but not feel weighed down. The platter should include both breakfast and lunch-style dishes, so your guests can have their pick. Choose food that is great for late morning or early afternoon. Frittatas, cheeses, pancakes, pasta and sandwiches are good choices. You could also add a few exotic dishes like dimsums or chicken curry for a pleasant variation. Omelet and pancake stations, or s’more bars would be well-received and also add some action.



Don’t skip wedding cake or drinks
Just because you are getting married in the morning, you needn’t skip the wedding cake. Choose a light flavor like lemon or vanilla, and keep it fresh and welcoming with white frosting. Or you could replace the wedding cake with wedding cake cupcakes in multiple flavors instead. Since the portions are small, your guests will be tempted to try it. You could also get creative with a dessert buffet, and give your guests a variety of treats to choose from.

For drinks consider refreshing and lighter choices like cocktails, white wine, fruit juices, scented teas and fruit smoothies. If the weather is warm, fizzy drinks infused with lemon or ginger, or yogurt smoothies would be nice.

Doesn’t all this sound romantic? If you are smitten by this idea of wedding reception brunches, go ahead with it. Don’t forget to get the perfect wedding dress for the occasion!

Blog idea original source: http://www.bestforbride.com/bridal-shop/19/breaking-wedding-traditions-how-to-throw-a-fantastic-wedding-reception-brunch/
Picture credit: http://lsa5.0.assets.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Super-Loco-brunch-smoothies.jpg
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Defining Dress Codes

With so many different dress codes out there, it can be difficult to know what to wear, even when the type of dress requested is stated on the invitation. Even then, there are so many variations to requested attires that this topic naturally lends itself to an answer of, “It depends…”. But If we can help you here, even a tiny bit, we’re going to go for it!


Smart Casual
Women: Wear a pencil skirt or dress pants, paired with a silk or button-down top and high heels.
Men: Opt for dressy trousers, paired with a collared shirt and loafers.
Typical places to wear Smart Casual: Office parties, happy hours, or a business luncheon.



“Dressy” Casual
Women: Avoid wearing denim, tennis shoes, and cotton tees. Instead, opt for silk pants, dress pants, or a skirt. Pair with a patent leather flat, or one with nice embellishments such as a bow, buckle, or a print.
Men: Wear trousers and a dress shirt with leather loafers, oxfords, or a slip-on shoe. Pair with a blazer or sport coat. Avoid showing up with wrinkles or clothes one size too big, too small, or in a non-coordinating color. A tie is optional.
Typical places to wear “Dressy” Casual: Church/Temple, dinner, or an invite received via phone or e-mail.


Country Club Casual
Women: Choose an open-necked or polo shirt. You can also go with dresses and skirts with minimal accessories.
Men: Wear an open-necked or polo shirt, paired with khakis. Accessorize with leather shoes and a belt.
Typical places to wear Country Club Casual: The country club (obviously), a friend’s home for dinner, or a nice restaurant.


Business Casual
Women: A skirt, khakis, or dress pants paired with long sleeve or three-quarter sleeve tops. A casual dress and flats are options as well.
Men: Wear a button-down or a polo shirt, paired with khakis, or dress pants. If you so desire, layer with a V-neck sweater, a blazer, or a sport coat. A tie is optional.
Typical places to wear Business Casual: A company party, daily work attire (depending on your job), or business lunch meetings.


Cocktail Attire
Women: Wear a shorter dress with some frill. The classic little black dress makes for great cocktail attire, and is the easiest to show your personality by accessorizing to suit your mood.
Men: Wear a dark suit, coat, and tie. Opting for dark jeans paired with a jacket and tie is also acceptable at some cocktail events, depending on how casual the atmosphere is.
Typical places to wear Cocktail Attire: Adult birthday parties and evening social events.


Lounge Attire
Women: Wear a dress that would be appropriate for brunch or afternoon tea. It should fall to, or slightly above, the knee, and not be too sparkly or low-cut. Incorporate a jacket or shawl to cover the arms.
Men: Opt for a dark suit paired with a crisp, white shirt. You can go with or without a tie. Opting for a vest instead of a tie adds informality of the look.
Typical places to wear Lounge Attire: Daytime engagement parties, business breakfasts, and afternoon tea.


White Tie
Women: A floor-length ball gown is a must. Accessorize with opera length gloves, glamorous jewels, and up-do hairstyles.
Men: Wear a short or waist length black tailcoat (tails should reach the back of your knees,) white bow tie, starched white shirt, and a cummerbund (optional). Sport high-quality black pants.
Typical places to wear White Tie: Charity fundraisers, government ceremonies, weddings, and the opera.


Black Tie
Women: Gussy up in a floor-length ball gown. A very dressy cocktail dress may be acceptable depending on the venue of the event.
Men: Wear a dark suit or a tuxedo without tails. Pair with a white shirt and a tie, or a bow tie with or without a vest and a cummerbund.
Typical places to wear Black Tie: Charity fundraisers, political dinner parties, and weddings.


“Creative” Black Tie
Women: Dress up in a long gown, cocktail dress, or snazzy separates. Accessorize with the latest trends, such as feathers, sequins, sheer fabrics, and capes. Show off your personality with every detail.
Men: Incorporate trendy prints in with your tie and a dressy shirt. Mix fabrics such as a silk blazer and a dress shirt to create a formal—yet interesting—look.
Typical places to wear “Creative” Black Tie: Galas, silent auctions, weddings, and formal dinners that have a fun atmosphere.


“Warm Weather” Black Tie
Women: Wear a long gown with white gloves (optional) and minimal jewelry.
Men: Wear a white dinner jacket, in a worsted wool, gabardine, linen, or cotton fabric material. Pair this with a white dress shirt, bow tie, a cummerbund, and nice black leather shoes.
Typical places to wear “Warm Weather” Black Tie: Formal events that are held outdoors, such as a cruise line or country club dinners, weddings, and galas.


Black Tie Optional
Women: Look glamorous in a long gown, cocktail dress, or luxurious separates. Accessorize with items such as long gloves, clutches, and jewelry to top off the whole look.
Men: If you own a tuxedo, wear it. If not, wear a suit in a dark color such as charcoal or black, paired with a white dress shirt, and a solid colored tie. Make sure patterns are kept to a minimum and shoes are shined. Accessorize your look with a pocket square and cuff links.
Typical places to wear Black Tie Optional: Elegant events such as galas, silent auctions, weddings, formal dinners.



Blog credit: https://www.artinstitutes.edu/about/blog/defining-dress-codes-what-to-wear-for-every-occasion

Ideas For Engaging Large Audiences


It’s no secret that most people have a difficult time with the idea of speaking in front of large audiences. But what is less often thought of is that even those who are comfortable with public speaking likely have a difficult time commanding the attention of their peers, especially if they’re speaking to a larger audience.
So, when it comes to that big business meeting you’re speaking at, how can you be sure your audience will be engaged with you and focused on what you’re telling them instead of idly standing by?

Make what you say first and last memorable
It’s often used as a studying strategy, that is, studying for shorter periods of time more frequently. This is because the human brain remembers what is said or done at the beginning and end of a sequence better than what is done in the middle of that sequence. That’s why TV commercials often begin with a loud sound or a funny image and end with their branded logo.
So, how does this translate into helping you with your meeting? Well, barring any late walk-ins to the meeting, making the beginning and ending to your speech creative or fun is one way you can get your audience to remember you and what you were talking about.
One option is to start with something that people aren’t accustomed to like a creative ice breaker. Before anything else is said in the meeting, ask a general question. An example for a morning meeting where attendees may be groggy and tired is: “In one word, what is your morning?”. This is a short, creative question that doesn’t require much brain power for your audience to muster, and you can display their results in a unique way such as this word cloud:


Personally, I have found that concluding your speeches and meetings is a bit trickier. If you’re speaking about something that is personal to you, make sure you close it with something meaningful or emotional. This way your audience will be more inclined to listen even if it has nothing to do with themselves. If you’re speaking at an annual business conference, maybe focus on a motivational vision or idea that you have to end your speech strongly. Whatever you choose to do, do not leave any loose ends hanging. Cliffhangers are great for books and movies but detrimental to public speaking. Cliffhangers won’t make your audience want to hear more from you but will instead irritate them because your speech ended anticlimactically.

Make the meeting into an event
Don’t just have your audience sitting there listening while you say what needs to be said. This is how people start day dreaming and letting their mind wander elsewhere. Make your meeting into a discussion by using a web application that streams your audience’s live answers onto a screen. Websites like Peardeck (all you need is a Gmail account to sign in) allow admins to ask questions and then display their users’ answers live on the screen, creating a discussion or competition for their audience. By doing this, it is much more difficult for the audience’s attention to wander and much easier to see exactly who is paying attention and actively involved.

Use multiple choice questions and polls
Let your audience test their knowledge of the company or whatever subject you’re speaking about by asking questions with definitive answers. By asking a series of questions, you can hammer home key points (like the actual reason sales are up) and your individual audience members can have a competition between each other to see who can answer the most questions correctly.
By polling your audience, you can ask key questions about almost anything without receiving an awkward silence from the crowd. Often speakers ask for a single answer and receive crickets in response for one of four reasons: 1) the audience isn’t sure if it was a rhetorical question, 2) the audience believes the speaker wants them to all to agree on a single, unified answer, 3) no one in the audience wants to offer up their own answer for risk of being wrong in front of countless people, or 4) the audience is just plainly not paying attention. Polling the audience as a whole negates all of these potential problems for the speaker and keeps the meeting light and efficient.

Whatever you decide to do to spice up your next business meeting, conference, or big toast at a party, remember to make it engaging, use pictures and graphics if the topic calls for it, and make it stand out from those in the past. Use some of the ideas above or come up with your own ways to form a more productive meeting or a more encapsulating speech. Just remember that you don’t need to make it the greatest speech ever spoken or the best meeting ever planned; just make it memorable and give it an attention-grabbing beginning and a strong closing!

Ideas for this blog were inspired by: http://www.polleverywhere.com/blog/all-hands-meeting-ideas/
Picture credit: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/53/00-Blog_Thinkstock_Images/Science_Backed_Tips_for_Public_Speaking.jpg
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Gadgets That Take the Worry Out of Travel


While traveling for a meeting or FAM can be an exciting part of your life as a planner, there are sometimes niggling safety issues to being on the road that can put a damper on all that fun. By investing in a number of stress-reducing travel gadgets, you can check your worry at the door and keep your belongings safe and secure throughout your travels.

There’s nothing like an $800 pair of blue suede Blahniks, except when they’re sitting in that unsecured suitcase, along with confidential work files and a new camera lens that anyone can easily gain access to with a single zip. GAH! A luggage lock is a must-have for any traveler concerned about their belongings, or carrying important items that need to stay safe. TSA-approved combination locks come in handy for those times when you want to be certain, such as storing luggage at hotel reception on check-out day.

Used to be, just keeping your credit cards in a secure location was enough. Now anyone with nefarious intentions and the technical know-how can skim your credit card information without ever reaching into your pocket. Take a bite out of electronic crime with an RFID-blocking wallet, able to block credit card and passport info from leaking out, and can also keep electronic hotel keys secure.

Yay for seaside meetings! Now, what to do with your keys, wallet and phone when you step from your lounge chair into the water for a swim or a paddle? A portable beach safe is just the ticket in this case, which you can load up with valuables and secure to a chair or other beach furniture while you play.

When standing at an empty airport carousel, two things typically run through your mind after all the bags have been packed off: they lost my luggage, or someone picked up my bag (by mistake or otherwise). If your bags have a luggage tracker inside, you can simply dial up the app on your phone to find its exact location on a map, and avoid the headache of your airline’s lost luggage office.

You never need it, until you do. All that charge you thought your phone had is suddenly showing red, and you need to call your contacts as soon as your plane lands. Fortunately, you packed a portable back-up phone charger that gives you enough juice to make it to your hotel. Such back-up chargers are small and cheap enough these days to make packing one a no-brainer.

Sure, you can play ‘guess that weight’ with your bag, which is all fun and games until the check-in agent slaps you with a heavy bag fee. A portable luggage scale can take the guess work out of packing, and help you avoid unwanted fees, by simply attaching the device to your bag and lifting it up to get a readout of the weight. They’re also small and light enough to not tip the scales themselves.

Are your first thoughts when you hit the tarmac along the lines of: Did I turn off the heat at home? Are the doors locked? You can banish these worries for good with a smart home system that controls everything from your thermostat to your smoke detector. These systems then link through an app on your phone that allows you to make changes from anywhere in the world. Smart systems such as Nest also include indoor and outdoor security cameras that send you alerts if any trouble is detected.

Source: http://blog.elitemeetings.com/2017/05/gadgets-that-take-the-worry-out-of-travel/

Wallet-Friendly Wedding Planning Tips

Starting to get the budget blues? With a little planning savvy, creating an amazing wedding doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some of our favorite money-saving tips.

GO OFF-PEAK
High wedding season — spring, summer and early fall — is typically the busiest and most expensive time of the year to host a wedding. Consider having your wedding during the off-season (such as late fall or winter) to net a considerable discount. Certain venues may have different peak times, so check ahead to determine its least busy time of the year.
AVOID SATURDAYS
Most weddings are held on Saturday evenings, so it can be less expensive to pick another day of the week, such as Friday or another weekday. Hosting a brunch or lunchtime wedding can also often be much less expensive than an evening wedding.
PICK AN ALL-IN-ONE VENUE
Choosing a single venue for your wedding ceremony and reception can be a great way to reduce your overall cost. You won’t have to worry about transportation between two locations for the wedding party and oftentimes won’t need a separate cocktail hour because guests can flow directly into the reception space right after the ceremony’s finished.
KEEP THE GUEST LIST IN CHECK
Trimming the guest list is an obvious, yet often necessary, way to reign in your budget. Invite everyone you couldn’t imagine celebrating the day without. Then consider any extras you don’t have to extend an invite to, such as former co-workers, friends you haven’t seen in over a year, distant relatives or your parents’ neighbors or friends you haven’t met. Also consider eliminating plus ones for any guests who don’t have a spouse or serious significant other.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH FOOD
Work with your caterer or venue to choose menu items that are delicious yet budget-friendly. For example, instead of a formal, plated dinner, consider a buffet with a couple of protein options, salad, veggies and then limit sides to a few crowd-pleasing options. For dessert, if your heart’s set on a big cake, choose a cake with a faux tier or two to add height, and have a separate sheet cake in the back that guests can be served from. Also find out if the venue charges a cake cutting fee. Another money-saving trick is choose alternative dessert options such as cookies, pies, tiered donut cakes, cake pops, cupcakes, etc.
REIGN IN THE ALCOHOL
Instead of offering an open bar all night, offer one or two beer and wine options to keep things simple and keep the budget under control. Check with your venue to see if it’s possible to bring in your own alcohol to save money. Just be aware that some caterers may charge a corking fee, even if you bring in your own wine. Another area to save is skipping a champagne toast, which many guests won’t drink anyway. Let your guests toast you with whatever drink they already have in hand instead.
GET CREATIVE
Brainstorm what you can borrow, DIY and let others help you out with whenever possible. Pinterest is a great resource for a plethora of fantastic DIY ideas. Consider asking friends and family if you can borrow items for your wedding, whether it’s a veil, jewelry, get-away car, décor, etc. Also tap into some of your guests’ hidden talents in lieu of a wedding gift. For example, maybe your cousin is ordained and could serve as your officiant, or your aunt loves flower arranging and would be happy to take handle the flowers, or your friend is an amazing baker and would love to make your wedding cake. Give them an opportunity to show off their special skills to make your big day even more personal.
FIND BUDGET-SAVVY GIFTS
You don’t have to thank your wedding party for their role on your wedding day with an expensive gift. Also don’t worry about getting everyone the same exact thing. Choose gifts based on each person’s personality and interests instead. There are many budget-friendly, yet thoughtful gift ideas to consider. Check out online retailers for affordable personalized gifts or Etsy for unique handmade gifts.
SKIP FAVORS
While favors are a great extra if you can work them into your budget, you can easily skip them without anyone noticing. Guests will remember the amazing time they had, rather than the great piece of swag they took home.

3 West Club offers fantastic wedding packages and can work within your budget means. Contact us today!
Source: https://themanregistry.com/groom-101/wallet-friendly-wedding-planning-tips/
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