Speaker Bio: Tara Guerard

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our first speaker introduction is Tara Guerard, Founder and President of Soiree by Tara Guerard.

Recognized as the southeast’s premier event designer, Tara Guérard has earned a national reputation for her exceptional ability to create spectacular settings celebrating life’s most anticipated occasions. Clients across the United States – from celebrity hosts to hometown brides – seek out Tara for her signature southern graciousness infused with a decidedly modern flair.

Since opening the doors of Soirée by Tara Guérard over a decade ago, Tara has been noted as a leading arbiter of entertaining and southern style. In 2005, she was selected as a Top 25 Trendsetter by Modern Bride magazine. Soirée’s work has also been featured by a wide range of media including Elegant Bride, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle Weddings, Southern Accents, Southern Living and Town & Country Weddings, among other prestigious publications. Most recently, Tara was tapped by Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Weddings to create a “Gorgeous and Green” Nashville, Tennessee wedding which was highlighted in the magazine and televised on the Style Network.

In addition to her client work with Soirée, Tara is the founder of The Lettered Olive, a line of custom invitations available through exclusive retailers and on the web. She is a sought-after speaker for national forums on floral and event design and has appeared before exclusive audiences at venues including the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, Nashville Lifestyles magazine’s “Bridal Ball” and the Walters Museum in Baltimore, MD, as well as industry programs such as the National Association of Catering Executives’ (NACE) annual meeting and The Special Event.

Tara lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Russell, their sons, Aiken and Myers and Springer Spaniel, Georgia.

We are very fortunate to be able to have Tara join us for The Academy. She will be teaching a class on Spatial Planning, and will be one of our featured designers in our Design Showcase! For the Spatial Planning class, she will cover topics such as:

-->How to evaluate different spaces and determine the best layout for indoor/outdoor ceremony, cocktails, and dinner
-->How to design unpredictable and unique layouts for weddings and defining the most ideal placements and presentations for the band, bar, dance area, lounge, cake, dessert buffet, large props, etc
-->How to overcome spatial challenges (i.e. low ceilings, small number of guests in a very large room, etc...)
-->How to highlight and mask certain architectural features

The Academy for Planners + Designers

We are excited to announce a name change for our March 2010 event at the St. Regis San Francisco! Formerly named The Wedding University PRO, this event will now be called The Academy for Planners + Designers.

Why the name change, you may ask.

As planners ourselves, we have been incredibly THIRSTY for knowledge all these years. We craved to learn from top designers, to get inside their creative heads, and to learn all about making our businesses profitable! We signed up for numerous conferences and educational seminars in the past, but none of them were intensely geared towards Wedding Planners and Designers. Thus, we are producing this academy to help established planners and designers take their businesses to the next level. We have secured top-notch speakers to teach and to share, and the content will be tailored to specifically to wedding planners and designers.

We know it takes a lot to impress this group, so we are partnering with the best people to produce the most incredible experience possible for our attendees. Not only will they leave with practical information that they can apply to their businesses, but they will be inspired to take their businesses to the next level, and they will make very important contacts with people in the industry.....all under the pampering and care of the St. Regis San Francisco and our Wedding 360 staff.

Registration will open in two weeks....stay tuned!

Speakers for The Academy for Planners + Designers

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We have so many fabulous speakers lined up for The Academy for Planners + Designers. We are going to unveil them one by one in the coming months, so please check back often!

Feedback on The Wedding University

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We can go on and on about our excitement for The Wedding University, but what matters most is how our actual students felt about the event! Jean Marks had an opportunity to talk to one of the couples that attended our inaugural event this February, and we loved their candidness!

Wedding University Behind the Scenes webisode 01 from andrew msv on Vimeo.

Thank you so much to the Four Seasons Silicon Valley for allowing us to shoot this on property and to Andrew Hsu of Studio MSV for his creativity and talent in shooting and editing this piece!

Staying Focused

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We all like to present ourselves as multi-taskers. I use to be in Human Resources, and interviewing potential candidates for the company was a big part of my job. Every interviewee I met with always brought up 'multi-tasking' as one of their greatest strength. Indeed, it is important to have the ability to multi-task, but I also find it valuable to have the ability to stay focused. Creative people often have a hard time doing that, but in order to raise our productivity, we need to learn how to stay focused! It's extremely challenging in today's world to be focused, for email alerts often keeps us spinning in circles. Then, there's the urge to sign in to facebook to see what our friends/colleagues are up to, or tweet a message to your followers. How many of us take pride in our ability to stay focus? It's an important skill that often gets unnoticed.

I bring this topic up because I'm seeing that more and more wedding professionals are selling themselves in so many different facets in order to bring more 'value' to the table. A DJ may include 'wedding coordination services' in their proposal, because they also create a timeline for the reception. A photographer may bring in an extra assistant who just happens to know how to operate a video camera, and thus, 'videography services' can now be included in the proposal. 'Event design' is an easy add to a planner's proposal--after all, she can match a napkin to a linen, right?

Before you start selling yourself as a multi-talented professional, please ask yourself if you can truly offer the services you are selling. A wedding coordinator's scope of service goes way beyond creating a timeline. An event designer will conceptualize, sketch, source, and style. A videographer needs to have the ability to tell a story from beginning to end and have a thorough understanding on shooting techniques, lighting, and editing.

In order to raise the standard in the wedding industry, we need to encourage brides and grooms to hire the right person for the right job. We should not proclaim ourselves to be everything to everyone. Focus at what you do best, and over deliver to your clients when you can. Exceeding expectations is always better than not meeting expectations.

If you only take a bit of time to try to understand and respect other professionals' scope of work, you will quickly realize that it's not easy to proclaim certain titles. By trying to fool your clients into thinking that you can do things which you have no training on will only come back to bite you in the long run. Remember it's not about making the immediate sales. It's about establishing trust, and relationship, so that the one sale can turn into a lifetime of referrals.