Videography 101 with Intellect Media

Marcus Williams is a perfectionist, focused on his craft, and apparently has goals of walking around beaches naked. All jokes aside, he has a deep love for videography and our little video hopes to showcase that. 

I'd also like to mention that this is our FIRST official try at Champagne with Cherry Blossom. Our friend Vanessa from View It Do It came over one Sunday morning to give us a crash course on how to edit video in iMovie, and we've been stumbling around ever since.

In time, it is our hope that our future clients will be able to see why we refer who we refer. Or why we encourage first looks, etc. It's one thing to hear it from your planner but it's another thing entirely to hear it from a different professional - sometimes it just helps put it in perspective a little bit better! 

Special shout out to Jollity & Co. for letting us set up shop in their party room, and an extra big hug to Steven for helping me edit this thing. And while we're at it, Apple should get a high five too for making their iPhone 7 Plus pretty easy to use. 

Cherry Blossom Takes YouTube

It's crazy how a simple idea spirals into a web of craziness. Let's take Kristina's homemade behind-the-scenes GoPro video as an example. The concept was simple: she was going to follow us around throughout a wedding to piece together a quick little snapshot of what we do. Sounds easy enough, right? She did a great job editing the video, added music, and caught some real moments. We were proud little ninjas and wanted to upload it our website to show the whole world! 

Then our dreams came crashing down because SquareSpace doesn't support uploaded videos. You can embed a video from YouTube or Vimeo, but we couldn't simply add the video to our blog and write about it.

Well shit. Now what? Create a YouTube channel, I guess?! Well, if we're going to create a whole channel, what else should we be putting on it? A few glasses of bubbly later and "Champagne with Cherry Blossom" was born. 

 

Truth be told the "Champagne with Cherry Blossom" concept was my shiny new husband's idea. He's an avid YouTube watcher and uses it as his main source of information. He's really into the car scene and always enjoys those clips about the people involved, so why not apply that to our wedding friends? It helps that I ask a lot of questions by nature and he's really good at IT, plus our wedding + event community has interesting characters so there's a ton of content built in.

Our plan is to collect the videos, edit them quickly, and push them out on Fridays. We're still figuring out the details and have NO IDEA what the heck we're doing, but hey, so far it's been fun. Right now we're being driven by our community friends and all the laughter behind the scenes, and that's enough to keep us going. Stay tuned for videos featuring Intellect Media, Katherine Hallberg Design, Get Me To I Do, Dragon Studio and who knows who else?! If I ask you to come the office, just make sure to brush your hair because you might end up on YouTube later ;) 

What To Say At A Wedding

Even if I objectively remove what I do for a living out of the equation, I would still think weddings are a ton of fun. I feel like I was there when you picked out your dress (I did "love" that Facebook status after all), your invitation has been hanging on my fridge for over a month, I have an outfit ready to dance in that compliments my husband's, and I know there's going to be some form of cake. 

But in this real life scenario, Steven is a groomsman - he'll be taking photos while I'm left to fend for myself. After we get through the ceremony I have to talk to humans. Real people. I can't get by with sending emojis and I know if I drink too much it's going to get even more awkward. 

Like any good nerd, I try to calm my anxiety by researching the situation. Who do I know that's attending the wedding? What are the odds of us sitting together? And then I start to spiral... what if the couple opted for open seating and I'm forced to wedge myself at a table of strangers? Oh man. Just writing this and I feel a twitch coming!

Let me explain: when I'm coordinating a wedding, my inner Sasha Fierce comes out and I'm on. But in this case, I'm a guest. It's the same sort of anxiety when I force myself to go to a networking event. I literally have to talk myself into going and pray I don't stutter too noticeably. 

In an effort to help myself and those too consumed with social media to remember how to hold a conversation, I scoured the world wide web for some easy one liners to get a dialogue going. With these and a little champagne (just a little!), I should be able to make it until Steven gets back from his groomsman duties.

  • "Hi, I don't know too many people here, so I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Crystal and I'm friends with both the bride and groom." Full disclosure: a variation of this will be my new default for networking events!
  • If I have the confidence to juggle holding food and talking, I might go with "I can't stop eating this [insert cocktail hour food here]. Have you tried it?!" 
  • "On a scale of 1 to undrinkable, how terrible is the champagne?" This line would make my friends erupt in laughter because I've never met a glass of bubbles I didn't like... Note to self: work that last part in for good measure.
  • "Beautiful venue, have you been here before?" Hashtag basic, hashtag safe. Hashtag stick with this one.
  • "We're hoping to visit a brewery before our plane leaves tomorrow, any in particular you would recommend?" This might get weird because I don't drink beer, so I'll save it for when Steven is nearby. 
  • "I love your [insert cool accessory or article of clothing here]." My natural inclination is to close this out with "Do you want to be best friends?!" but I know better. I'll save the authenticity for smaller groups of people so the bride + groom don't get a string of texts the next day asking about the random girl in the flower maxi dress. 

 

Starting A Wedding Planning Business? Consider This First.

Back in 2011 when I was first writing my business plan I remember thinking to myself "wedding planning should be easy - all you need is the internet and a printer!" Boy was I wrong. Never mind the actual amount of money it takes to keep the business running and all the emotions you help families navigate, here's a list of other things I had no clue about:

  • GLOW STICKS TAKE A LONG TIME TO PUT TOGETHER. Cracking 300 glow sticks to pass out during a dance set is no problem. Oh, you want them connected into necklaces? Sure, just give me about 40 minutes...
Photo cred: Justin Hankins

Photo cred: Justin Hankins

 

  • YOU'RE A KNOW-IT-ALL. It never dawned on me that vendors would come to me for answers for all sorts of questions. Do you know where Uncle Joe is? How does the elevator in this brand new hotel work? Do the newlyweds prefer light ice or no ice in their drinks? Ummmmm, I don't know?! Well, now I do know because I take some ridiculous notes throughout planning and make sure each detail (including how they take their scotch) is in the timeline.
  • YOU LOSE THE CONCEPT OF TIME. Because we do the bulk of planning for our day-of couples three months in advance, I'm always confused as to what month we're in now. Here are some common Crystal-isms:
    • Are you sure your kid is turning 3 already? Pretty sure we just sent you down the aisle last year and I would obviously remember your child. Are you sure it's been 3+ years since your wedding? Really?
    • Are you sure we just had that conversation yesterday and not last month?
    • There's no way Steven and I just got married 3 months ago... wait, we're in the month of May right now? Are you sure? 
  • YOUR MEMORY GOES TO SHIT. My brain is cluttered with all sorts of fun facts. I can tell you the date of any given Saturday in 2017 but please don't expect me to recite what time cake cutting is without referencing it on the timeline. In social settings it's almost worst. If I lose my train of thought mid-conversation it's just gone and there's no coming back. This is a depressing state of my reality given I used to pride myself on never needing to write anything down. 
  • SO... MANY... PROGRAMS. Here's a running list of programs I regularly use to make Cherry Blossom operational in no particular order: 17hats, Aisle Planner, QuickBooks, AllSeated, WeddingWire, G Suite (all of it), SquareSpace... I think that's it...? Don't get me started on the various social media apps and their accompanying editing apps, the different places we advertise to stay in front of our dream couples, or the professionals on retainer to keep things legal. 

So much for starting an "easy" business! Five years down and a million to go. Don't worry, I'm trying to get better about blogging in general so I'll have a history of Cherry Blossom written down in one place. How else would I remember what happens?! ;) 

So... You're Going To A Wedding Show

Ok, I get it. Not everyone is as overly enthusiastic about spending an afternoon at a wedding show as I am. What's not to love about being in a football stadium-sized room filled with vendor after vendor after vendor? It's like a fantasy land for your wedding! You get to walk around with a mimosa, a mini cupcake with fancy swirl frosting, a gourmet taquito, and all anyone cares about is what your plans are for your big day. Sounds like the best day ever! 

Seeing as I bought my wedding dress from Milk & Honey, I jumped at the opportunity to help man their booth at House of Maya's Uniquely Yours Bridal Showcase. Instead of wearing my usual planner hat, I got to talk to brides as a bride and tell them about the fantastic experience I had at their store - again, best day ever! 

It was interesting to see the couples and their families walking by. Some were on a mission with their checklists, others wandered off from their friends on purpose. The majority looked like they were nearly paralyzed because they were so overwhelmed. Putting my planner hat back on, here's what I would tell those overwhelmed couples before they set foot inside:

  1. Go through the booths like you go through the aisles at Target. Weave in and out of every row of vendors with zero expectations and all the time in the world. By the time you leave, you'll be happily surprised with all the "things" (or business cards or ideas) in your wedding cart! 
  2. Take in the scenery. All of it. Look up, look down, and breathe it all in. The wedding industry is full of vendors with creative ideas. For example, the gals @ Milk & Honey wrapped a rolling rack in wrapping paper to use as a backdrop. A ROLLING RACK! They covered the legs with bunched up linens and no one knew any better. Genius! You might get inspired by a menu card, the way a napkin is folded, or even the way a glass ornament can be used to add height to your cake. 
  3. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I like to think of wedding shows like I think of podcasts. I listen to podcasts as I'm drawing floor plans, but I'm not fully listening. By the end of it something sticks and I feel inspired. The same principle can be applied to wedding shows, too! Pay attention to which vendors you remember after the show - those are obviously the ones that made the biggest impression and will inspire you throughout planning. 

And let's not forget the best part about wedding shows: the opportunity to dream, be inspired, and walk around with as many delicious possibilites as you can carry. Happy planning!

Why 2017 is Going to KICK ASS

I've been preparing for 2017 for months. Now that it's finally here, I can't wait to share all the fun stuff I've been working on. Last year was amazing in itself because Kristina came on board, and it's been heartwarming to witness all the ways Steven has taken charge behind the scenes. We worked with some amazing couples, had the opportunity to travel a bit, and closed out the year with 38 weddings. Our goal in 2017 is a little higher and I am feeling PUMPED thanks to the crazies that keep pushing Cherry Blossom forward. Aside from getting married in February (OMFG that's like a month away!), here are some awesome things I'm looking forward this year:

WE'RE GETTING A FACELIFT

Cherry Blossom is turning 5 in February and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a facelift. Our BFF's at PaperDolls Design are giving our brand a fresh new feel, and Amanda from Stellar Exposures is updating our headshots for us @ Cure Coffeehouse. We can't spill all the fun details but rest assured that there will be a pinata involved!

Amanda from Stellar Exposures + Katrina @ a wedding in September

Amanda from Stellar Exposures + Katrina @ a wedding in September

Our Norfolk office already had a bit of a make-over in October and it feels fantastic. The walls were warmed up with a salmony-coral color, and Steven and I whittled a t-shaped desk. By "whittle" I really mean "followed an Ikea hack," but you get the idea. Our fingers are still attached despite using power tools and now there's a cool new desk to show for it! 

CHERRY BLOSSOM IS GOING TO THE NEXT (DIGITAL) LEVEL

Remember life before an iPhone? I don't either and that's exactly how I feel about implementing Aisle Planner - how have we survived the past 5 years without this software?! Our clients will now have their own online dashboard for all of their wedding things: style guides, a kickass timeline, budgets, contracts - you name it! Technology makes my OCD heart so happy! 

FULL SERVICE PLANNING IS FINALLY HERE

Just the words "full service" are a little intimidating to me. If a client booked us for full service, would that mean they would expect us to polish their shoes or fan them during hair + make-up? After a lot of soul searching I realized that's not who I am therefore that's not the type of person Cherry Blossom attracts. I'm so excited about this new service for the sheer fact that I/ we just want to help - when you love what you do, you go out of your way to find more ways to do it, right? ;) 

With new systems under our belt, an inviting fresh office, and an updated brand, we are ready to help all the offbeat couples who choose us to plan their weddings. I am so incredibly thankful for everything I learned in 2016 and CAN'T WAIT to throw glitter all over 2017. Let's do this.

Photo cred: Stephanie Yonce Photography

Photo cred: Stephanie Yonce Photography

The Introvert's Guide to an Engagement Session

One of my favorite parts about wedding planning is being behind the scenes. In fact, that's why we call ourselves the Wedding Ninjas. We're there, you know we're around, but you just never know when we might pop out of the shadows! Now that I'm knee deep in planning my own wedding, I'm realizing more and more how much I would rather be back on my normal side of the table.

Case in point: our engagement shoot. Our photographer is fantastic and made some really awesome suggestions, but some of my industry buds scared the living daylights out of me. Get a spray tan? Get my hair, make-up, and nails done? Rent a dress? No way, that just isn't me! I can see why it's important for others to do those things, but just the thought of being in front of a camera was enough to make me a little woozy. And now to make a whole production out of it?  My gut reaction was to cancel the whole thing altogether. 

Luckily my fiance is THE BEST at bringing my level of crazy down to a tolerable level. In less than five minutes he sweetly reminded me that it wasn't about the production, but about us hanging out with our good friend who just happens to be an excellent photographer. It's not about how good we look, but about holding hands and making memories together. 

And this is reason #235697 I'm excited to marry him. 

To make it feel less of an awkward thing, we chose to do the majority of the session at home. I loved the idea of us being in our own element and I immediately felt a little more at ease. Fun props always help, so we headed out to pick up donuts, some balloons (terrible idea and I'll tell that story separately), champagne, and beer. We gave our most important prop a bath so she'd be extra shiny, too.  

Every single morning, Steven wants donuts. Every. Single. Morning.

Every single morning, Steven wants donuts. Every. Single. Morning.

Introvert tip: be in your own comfort zone. It's less awkward! 

Introvert tip: be in your own comfort zone. It's less awkward! 

After a couple of glasses of champagne I was ready for part deux. A quick outfit change later we hit the road and headed towards another fun prop, downtown Norfolk. Norfolk is another place that feels like home to me because it's as close as I can get back to New York City. Our Cherry Blossom office is there, many dates have happened there, and I just love the energy. 

We owe a HUGE thank you to Amanda of Stellar Exposures. We've worked with her numerous times and so have our clients, and it's easy to see why so many people love her. She was intuitive, down to earth, and not afraid to be herself - this leads me to the most important tip: choose your vendors wisely!