Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Interns Chosen .... but it's still a secret!

Just an FYI that we've chosen two applicants to intern with us for the coming Spring Wedding Season!

However, as we promised on the blog, they won't be announced until TOMORROW, January 1st, 2009.

Stay tuned for the special announcement of the winners, coming very soon!

Monday, December 29, 2008

New for 2009!

We have a couple of "firsts" coming up for 2009 that I'm going to keep under wraps for now, but I did want to go ahead an announce our first big change:

Flaire Weddings and Events can now accept credit cards! It's a move we've been wanting to make for a while now, but only recently did we find the right fit for our processing needs.

So, clients, if you'd like to pay by credit card instead of personal check, just let me know and I'll get you set up.

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday! (I did! Skiing in Boone, NC was part of the fun! Hopefully I'll post pics soon.) =)

Friday, December 19, 2008

My first photo shoot -- with my new camera!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I bought a DSLR camera so I could take my own table top/design shots at weddings for this blog. My of my photographers gladly supply me with images, but sometimes I want to post right away after a wedding, and I get a bit impatient waiting around for image files!

So I decided a decent-quality digital camera would be a worthy investment.

I'm definitely still in the learning stages, but I had a friend who volunteered to model for me as I experimented with settings, focusing, and lighting. She wanted to have some new pictures of herself anyway, so it worked out for us both!

Here are a few of my favorite shots, which were taken around downtown Jax.


I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. Thanks Angela for being such a good sport. =)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real Wedding: Allison and Matthew

Allison and Matthew came to St. Augustine, all the way from Colorado for their beach wedding!

Allison wanted a very simple but elegant beach wedding, so our all-inclusive beach wedding ceremony packages were perfect for her!

The weekend they chose in November ended up being one of our coldest on record, but that didn't dampen the spirit of the day.

Thanks so much to Katie of Katie Photography for capturing these lovely images!
Congratulations Allison and Matthew! May you have a wonderful marriage!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Huge Designer Bridal Gown Liquidation

Attention Brides!

A major bridal boutique in Jacksonville, Riverside Gown Shop, closed its doors last year and still has about 75-100 gowns remaining.

These gowns are being liquidated at well below resale value! Several of the gowns are worth thousands of dollars. They are in very good shape for the most part, and if you are a recessionista, this would be an excellent way to stretch that budget a bit!

If you are interested in contacting the firm in charge of the liquidation, please leave me a comment or an email and I'll get you the contact's direct information.

Thanks so much and let us know if you're interested in seeing the gowns!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

How to Spot a Bad Apple

My last post inspired me to think about the issue of the thirty-plus wedding planners here in Jacksonville. With all that competition, what's a bride to do? Who's trustworthy and who's not?

With that in mind, we came up with our top five tips for How to Spot a Bad Apple -- that is, who's running a legitimate business and who might not be?

Tip # 1: The planner has no website. In today's technological world, not having a website is like broadcasting "I'm stuck in the eighties!" It could also mean the planner is brand new and has not invested the appropriate funds to begin running a legitimate business. (This goes for other vendors, too -- I rarely even consider a caterer, photographer, etc. for my brides that does not have a website.)

Tip # 2: The planner's "portfolio" showcases "borrowed" or stock images. This one can be trickier to spot. Being familiar with your favorite designer's "looks" can help you spot when other planners have "borrowed" their images, marketing those images as their own. If you'd like to verify that a planner's images are from her own events, ask her questions about the images (albeit in non-threatening manner.) Ask questions like, "What venue was this wedding held in?" "Who was the florist for this wedding?" While they're not going to want to give away their entire vendor list, a legitimate business will be using photos of their own events and will be able to speak knowledgeably about those events.

Tip # 3: There's no specific "about us" info on their website. While this initially may not seem like a big deal, it begs the question -- why isn't this information there? No one wants to talk to a faceless company. We want to know that there is a living, breathing person running this company, we want to know their name, and we want to feel comfortable with that person. A photo is a plus.

Tip # 4: The planner is not a member of any professional organizations. While obviously not a requirement, by joining a professional organization, the planner is showing that they are committed to excellence and high standards. The Association of Bridal Consultants is an excellent place to start.

Tip # 5: A search through city records turns up zero mention of the company. Anyone running a business in Jacksonville (or anywhere for that matter) is required to go through the necessary steps to be considered a legal business entity. If you'd like to check through a list of Jacksonville businesses, there is a search engine here. Just type in the business's name, and the website will show you any records of that company.

Of course it goes without saying that no "research" beats an in-person consultation, in which you can form your own opinions about the person or company and your comfort level with them and their services. But if you're trying to avoid having 30 sit-down consultations, weeding out the "bad apples" using some of these methods is a good place to start!

Planners in other areas -- is your area full of bad apples? How do you deal with this?

Brides -- other ways you searched for reputable vendors? Let us know!!

Vent: Copy-Cat "Wedding Planners"

Ok -- so I hope in advance the tone of this post does not come across too harshly. But I need to take a moment to vent.

The Wedding Planning industry is a very transient one. There are SO many companies that begin this way: a girl plans her own wedding, LOVED it, and sets-up shop as a wedding planner because it just sounds SO fun and she's SO good at it. (Or maybe she just rented Jennifer Lopez's The Wedding Planner and thinks this career would be perfect for her!)

Great! Fabulous! Good luck, and we hope it works out for ya. A year later, an internet search of her company turns up nothing. Nada. Zilch. She's worked with a few brides, and discovered that it's actually TONS of work, and makes you very little profit, if any, for the first several years of business.

So, I take it all in stride when the lastest listings on or or some other wedding directory turn up 10 new weddings planners in the Jacksonville area. Some I'm sure will blossom into awesome companies, others will fade away as quickly as they started. It's just the nature of the beast.

But imagine my irritation, when looking over the website of one of these newcomers, I find the product/service descriptions to be almost word-for-word matches of my own service descriptions on my website. Oh, a few words have been changed here and there, but in a direct, side-by-side comparison of the two sites, the copycat is pretty obvious.

On the one hand, I guess I should be pretty flattered that my company is seen as one of the standard-setters here in Jacksonville. On the other hand, it's irritating. Extremely.

I understand that everyone has to start somewhere. Because I, too, was a newcomer, three and a half years ago. But I didn't copy other planners' styles. I created my own look, my own package offerings, my own pricing. And, I joined a professional association, ABC, to hone my craft. I've attended workshops, seminars, and conferences to better myself and my business. And I'm continuing to strive for new heights with my business. I'm constantly evaluating, reworking, and updating to be sure that my service offerings are innovative and relevant. So it's frustrating when other planners aren't putting in their own effort, but are trying to latch on to someone else's bootstraps. (Don't know if that's a saying or not, but it made sense to me!!)

On the brighter side, if you are considering a career in wedding planning, a great way to "test-drive" that desire is through an internship!

Flaire Weddings and Events is currently open for applications to our Spring Intership Program. We will be accepting applications until December 15th, so if you're interested, you still have two weeks to get that application in!
See the details here.

Good luck -- we'd still love to hear from several more applicants!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blogger Brides... Winner!

A few weeks ago we introducted our Blogger Brides contest. To enter, all you had to do was be a blogging bride, post our introductory post on your blog, and leave a comment! We used to generate a number randomly, and comment number 1 was selected! So the winner is... Devon! Devon, please email us at with the subject "blog contest" to claim your prize: a $10 Target Gift Card!

You can follow along with all the blogging brides on their blogs!

Devon, with "Wait...15k is How Far?"
Sonja, with "The Mrs."
Ali, with "The Innerworkings of a Fish Girl."
and Rai, with "A Semi-Charmed Kind of Life" (Rai actually didn't comment on this post, but with a little blog-stalking of Sonja's blog we found her post so we're including it here too!)

Thanks again to all the blogger brides who participated in our intro post-- stay tuned for a new blogger bride post coming soon, and if you're a blogger bride out there, it's not too late to join the fun!!