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Engagement Season

Well engagement season is here and suddenly I am like a little kid on Xmas Eve.

I know that the all the statisticians of this industry say that 70% of couples who get engaged do it between American Thanksgiving and Valentines day with the bulk of those couples saying "OMG, YES YES, I LOVE YOU YES" during those crucial two days that surround Xmas. So now it's a bit of a waiting game for me. Which couples will want to hire me as their wedding planner? What will those couples be like? What new and creative themes suit their personalities? For the destination couples; what countries will their weddings take place in? It's all so exciting.

I know what some of you are thinking. Well the 2010 forecasts have already been released. We know the colours that will be popular, we know strapless is out. (thank you Ivanka and Vera Wang) , we know vintage is classic. Better industry experts then myself have already gone public with these wise predictions. I'm not excited to find out about the trends of 2010. It takes up to a year and a half to plan most weddings so my excitement is all about 2011.

I'm not even all that concerned with trends. I like to approach each bride from a unique perspective. When I sit down at that initial first meeting I want to know about them. I want to know if they dreamt of their wedding day as a child. The 6 year old imagining their wedding certainly was not thinking about what would be trendy in 2010. They were thinking about what gives them that dreamy happy feeling. Then I want to know about the woman or man they are today. Who is this grown up version. Who is this person they are marrying? Of course some of the things they like right now, in the moment will be influenced by the trends; but what can I do to create a truly unique wedding experience that will reverberate in the minds of this couple for the rest of their lives?

These new brides and grooms will be a huge part of my life for the next year or so. I don't know who they are yet. I'm hoping they will be kindred spirits. I'm hoping they will feel the same about me. It's an exciting time. Right now it's quiet. People are still on vacations. They are still basking in the excitement of having just gotten engaged. I've definitely noticed an increase of hits onto my web site. Right now people are just looking and taking it all in. If you are one of the people who has clicked my site lately; I apologise that my current revamp isn't complete. It's not full of the many pretty pictures sitting in my web guys hard-drive. It will hopefully be done before the new year. Let's face it. I'm a wedding planner; not a web guy. All the new packages are up though; so take a look. Thank you web guy for making that happen.

To all the new brides and grooms I say take your time. Enjoy the newly engaged feeling. Look at all the wedding web sites out there. Buy some magazines, visit some bridal shows, and gab with your friends. Imagine all the possibilities. Then when you're ready to start putting it all together into one solid plan I'll be here waiting. I hope you choose me to help you make this all happen for you. I absolutely can't wait to meet all you new brides and grooms. You all have my heartfelt congratulations. 2010 is going to be great. Don't forget to call if you have any questions.


A Jewish Destination Wedding in the Caribbean?

Although I focus on planning all sorts of weddings one thing I love is a challenge. I guess that's one of the reasons the challenge of planning Jewish weddings in communities with little or no Jewish community gives me a bit of a thrill.

The destination wedding industry is growing by leaps and bounds. At this point almost everyone has either been invited to a destination wedding, or known someone who has had one. What do you do if you want to have one and the unique religious or cultural traditions you want to incorporate into your wedding aren't common in the location you want to hold it? I'm focusing this blog installment on the Caribbean because that is a very popular location for destination weddings these days; but the challenges that face a Jewish couple planning their Caribbean wedding are very similar to the challenges faced in any community with few Jews living there.

The good news is that many places in the Caribbean actually do have synagogues. You can find synagogues in Aruba, Cuba, Bahamas, Curacao, Jamaica, Bermuda, Barbados and the list goes on and on. The bad news; well the bad news is that just because a place has a synagogue that doesn't mean they have a Rabbi to perform the ceremony.

In many cases the Chuppah, the Rabbi and everything else you need to properly put together a kosher wedding ceremony will have to be brought in from somewhere else. In many cases the easiest place to purchase or rent these items is Miami. There are vendors there who have experience shipping to the Caribbean so they won't mind helping you out. I will tell you a little secret about the Chuppah. if you would like to save some money and don't relish the idea of flying one in; you can build you own. All you need is four poles or long sticks and the grooms Tallit. In some cases if you choose to purchase a pre-packaged wedding from a resort they will have the items on hand that you need. You will have to pay extra for it and you might still have to bring in your own Rabbi. I'm not even going to discuss the concept of koshering catering. That's another hassle on it's own.

Now I realize that not everyone is weird like I am and enjoys the challenge of finding a Rabbi who will travel and the vendor who will ship overseas. So if your dream wedding involves sand and sea I will simply give you my list of the top two spots in the Caribbean where it is easiest to plan your Jewish destination wedding.

1. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. They have a Rabbi that lives there. They also have a Cantor who can perform weddings. (if you didn't know this; Jewish law dictates that a Cantor can also perform marriage ceremonies) They have an active synagogue. The Jewish community is certainly not as big as New York; but you can find enough of what you need locally to make this one of my top two spots to hold a Caribbean Jewish wedding.

2. Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands also have a Rabbi; but unlike St. Thomas he only lives there seven months out of the year. Unless you have always dreamed of holding your beach side wedding during hurricane season I think the odds are good that you can plan your wedding for a time the Rabbi is in town. For me personally one of the things that make this an easy area to plan a Jewish wedding is the fact that it is also the home of one of my all time favourite wedding vendors. This vendor has a one-stop shop that can arrange all the floral, decor, and yes she has a Chuppah. It makes things so much easier for both myself and the couple.

Those are the first two spots I suggest to any Jewish bride and groom looking to have a wedding in the Caribbean. There are a couple of others that are just as convenient; but for me those two are my favourite. One thing to remember though is that there are absolutely no limits to where you can hold your dream wedding. Just because a location doesn't have a Rabbi or Cantor living there does not mean you can't have someone brought in. Of course you will have to follow the laws of country you are in. So in some cases the Rabbi will only be allowed to religiously marry you and you might have to do a quick civil service at home or earlier in the day; but that's something you will discover in your research.

I know that some Jews get scared off by the idea of having a destination wedding anywhere other then Israel because they can't imagine how they will pull it off; but know that not only can it be done; but it's been done before. I hope a little bit of the trepidation has subsided. I only focused on the Caribbean; but It's your big day. If you want your wedding in Israel, Barbados, or Rome; it can be done. It's your dream to turn into a reality. I really hope this blog posting has helped and maybe even got you thinking a bit.


Mindless Sophistication's first blog

I just returned from the 2009 Wedding Professionals Conference in fabulous Turks and Caicos. All the speakers were inspiring. If you know anything about the wedding and events industry you might automatically know some of the names such as Sasha Souza, Caira and Simon Daykin, Jo-Anne Brown, and of course Andy Ebon. The speakers list did not end there; but you get the idea regarding the the level of quality.

As will happen at any conference taking place in the early half of the 21st century there was a lot of talk about social networking marketing. For years before I started my own business I worked in the field of communications and public relations so the idea of this kind of marketing is nothing new to me. I've always saw it as a bit of a hit or miss type of marketing. It's VERY easy to get wrong. The companies that I know who have been doing it right invest a lot of money outside of the social networking realm to get people to follow them online. After they have some people it starts to snow ball; but to simply set up an account online at various social networking sites and wait for the people to come is not usually the best marketing method. Like anything there are stars that stand out and have good luck; but it's kind of like going to Hollywood to become an actor; of the thousands of people doing it every year; maybe 10% will eventually be able to make a living off it. If that much.

That said; the one thing that kept coming up at the conference is that for people in the wedding industry social media seemed to be working; and it was working without the big corporate budget. One thing I do know for sure and I didn't have to spend loads of money on market research to find this out is that the 2009 bride has turned away from the magazine rack and is looking online so; could it be true? Is the Wedding Industry either an exception to the rule or have I been out of the PR game so long that I'm simply not hip to the marketing trends that work the best anymore?

I'm willing to give this form of marketing a shot. Even if nobody reads anything I put out there it can't hurt to have it out there. I warn all my readers in advance of a few things about myself that could make writing a blog a treacherous path for me. First, as a kid I was never good at keeping up a diary. I have loads of diaries sitting in my parents basement with one or two entries followed by a lot of empty pages. So no promises this first post won't also be the last. You can all take bets on how well I keep this up. Secondly, although verbally I can be a woman of appropriate amount of words; when I start writing my thoughts it can get very long and go in many directions. For instance when I sat down I had every intention of writing a post that metaphorically compared planning a wedding to the sport of rowing. For the sake of time I will write that blog later. So you get the point; I'm a writing babbler. Lastly, I'm a really private person. I'm justifying this blog as part of my business so if you want to hear me rant about what hair-brained stunt my boyfriend has pulled this time it won't be happening. So I hope I can keep this blog interesting enough for you without bringing illogical male antics into it. I'm also not going to be participating in celebrity gossip or any gossip in general. So if you're looking to hire a planner and that's your thing, well you're probably not the client for me. Yes it's true; I would rather refer a client to another planner then work with one who isn't a good fit for me. I hope that doesn't shock anyone. My goal is to make the wedding planning process as fun and painless as possible for all of us. If I do ever refer someone on to another planner please don't take offense. It's never anything personally. It simply means that planner will be a better fit personality wise then I am.

Well I think I have written more then enough. I haven't spoken much about the conference in Turks and Caicos. I'm sure I will do that at some point as it was utterly fabulous; but one thing I would like to leave you with. While there we did a really fun thing; many of us took part in what must have been the biggest trash the dress photo-shoot ever. I invite you to check out the pictures on facebook. It was so much fun.