Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Events Industry Carries On Together Through COVID-19

Catering Industry March 31,2020 Meryl Snow

This catering pro shares how the industry has triumphed in the past and shares tips on overcoming today's challenges.

At this point in time, we are experiencing history in the making. As COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus) impacts people across the globe, the economy is seeing the impact of mandated isolation and shutdowns. Businesses are shuttering for the foreseeable future and, collectively, we are navigating this public health crisis one day at a time.

It’s natural to feel scared, confused and overwhelmed by this situation. But, let’s not forget that there cannot be darkness without light. If you look closely, you’ll see humanity playing out on small and large levels. Together, we are stronger and communities are growing closer each and every day.

Currently, we are stretched in multiple directions--we need to hold onto our businesses, we need to support our employees, we need to look after our families and, of course, we need to take care of our own physical and mental well-being. In this time of confusion, let’s take a moment to remember that humans have been faced with extreme challenges in the past.

Consider the early days of 1980 when it felt like everything was in abundance. Events were luxurious and over the top, with clients’ budgets ready to accommodate the expense. Yet, in 1993, we faced a recession that had people tightening their purse strings. Guest counts dropped, events were cancelled, and the events industry suffered as a result.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
Then, the tragedy of Sept. 11 sent shockwaves across the U.S. Our nation was under attack, leaving citizens paralyzed in fear and uncertainty. Businesses stood still in the aftermath.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
Fast-forward to 2008 when the market crashed and the nation faced a financial crisis unlike any other. Events came to a halt. How could anyone celebrate something when they were forced to lay off employees? Small businesses took the hit of this economic recession.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
In terms of public health emergencies, this isn’t the first pandemic we’ve faced. It’s certainly the most drastic in most of our lifetimes, but history can offer some important lessons on how to deal with this crisis.

Just over 10 years ago, the swine flu (H1N1) led to more than 274,000 hospitalizations and some 12,500 deaths in the U.S. In 1968, the flu pandemic killed an estimated 1 million worldwide with 100,000 deaths in the U.S. The most severe pandemic in modern history was the 1918 Spanish flu, when about one-third of the world’s population was infected and an estimated 675,000 people died in the U.S. alone.

All of this to say that while this COVID-19 situation is novel and unpredictable, it’s not exactly unprecedented. At this moment, we don’t know how this crisis will end, yet history shows us that we prevailed and came back from each crisis.

In fact, we emerge stronger than ever before. If nothing else, find solace in a historical perspective.

Once again, small businesses will face an uphill battle throughout this pandemic. We will have to make tough choices on behalf of our companies, our employees, our families and ourselves.

Communication is key right now, so be open and honest with clients and colleagues about where you stand right now. Customers will empathize with brands during a crisis, as long as you are taking the efforts to be transparent.

Remember: You are not alone in this. Your feelings are natural. Everyone is facing this together, so let’s use this opportunity to remain transparent about our businesses and ask for help when we need it. This is not a time for pride or competition. This is a time for community and togetherness. I don’t have the answers to this situation, but know that I and everyone else are living through this right alongside you. Let’s prevail and come back from this one together.

With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. As a valued member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge and covers the funny side of life and business.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Managing Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine

Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isola-tion. Here are a few pointers that could help you survive spiraling negative thoughts about this uncertain time.
1.) Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself
”As dismal as the world may feel right now, think of the mandated work-from-home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal. Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganize, or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself.
2.) Stay close to your normal routine
Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s. Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, it will be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.
3.) Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage
Freeing up your day from work or social obligations gives you plenty of time to obsess, and if you have a tendency to consult Google for every itch and sneeze, you may be over-researching the pandemic as well. Choosing only certain credible websites ( or is a good start) for a limited amount of time each day (perhaps two chunks of 30 minutes each) will be in your best interest during this time.
4.) A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind
With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For exam-ple, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.
5.) Start a new quarantine ritual
With this newfound time, why not do something special during these quarantined days? For example, perhaps you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later. Or take a walk every day at 4pm, connect with your sister over FaceTime every morning, or start a watercolor painting which you can add to every day. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day.
6.) Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable
Many licensed psychologists are offering telehealth options over HIPAA-compliant video chat platforms. Remember to reach out for help if your anxiety is reaching proportions that is unmanageable without professional help.
Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.

About the Author
Dr. Aarti Gupta, PsyD is Founder and Clinical Director at TherapyNest, A Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California. She specializes in evidence-based treatment for a wide spectrum of anxiety disorders, including OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety, trichotillomania, and generalized anxiety disorder. Dr. Gupta serves on ADAA's public education committee.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Logistics of Planning a Gay or Lesbian Wedding

The logistics of planning a gay or lesbian wedding ceremony are a little bit different than setting it up for a heterosexual bride and groom because there is a century of etiquette that dictates the rules of how that works. Gay and lesbian couples are left to make it up as they go along — and that isn't a bad thing! It actually gives brides and grooms the option to do whatever they want without anybody saying they're breaking the rules, but it can still raise some questions if you don't plan ahead for exactly what you want to do. Here, three commonly asked etiquette questions about same-sex weddings.
Who sits where?
You can assign sides (hanging a cute sign on the back of the chairs in the back row if you're not using ushers), or you can keep it an informal "everybody is welcome to sit anywhere except the front row" kind of ceremony. If you want to assign sides, just pick a side. Sometimes both families aren't represented and you don't want that fact to stand out, so you might opt to have a selection of special family and friends fill the front row and no designated sides for any purpose.
How do the brides or grooms get down the aisle?
You may each process down the aisle, or walk in with the officiant, or you could seat your parents, then take your places up front with the officiant. Brides may both want to process down the aisle with their fathers, or you could even walk together hand-in-hand. Grooms may choose to enter together or separately. Or each groom could come from opposite sides of the ceremony venue and meet in the middle. It's a little trickier to orchestrate with photography, but as long as you have two people shooting, it works.
Who participates in the ceremony?
Like any straight wedding, gay and lesbian weddings usually have readings performed by a friend or family members. Sometimes there is a candle-lighting ceremony or a sand blending that involves parents helping to signify the union and the blending of two souls. Involve whoever makes you happy. Reserve the important parts of your day for those who love you and support you the most.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

About Napkins


» About Napkins

Table Napkins
Today, discriminating hosts and hostesses have a wide variety of napkin products from which to select. For formal dining, there is the cloth napkin, the paper napkin being reserved for more informal settings.
The theory, evidently, is that the more food and drink that is served, the more potential there is for spillage, so the bigger the napkin must be to catch it.
Cloth napkins may be purchased in a rainbow of colors and a variety of fabrics.
» Napkin Etiquette
Ready to Eat
Whether the napkin is cloth or paper, when in polite company, a napkin is to be used with a measure of etiquette, so as not to offend other diners through a display of boorishness. (You’re excused from these rules only when the napkin you are offered is one of those flimsy little paper things that pop out of tabletop dispensers – the kind of “napkin” you cannot place on your lap expecting it to not blow away within 20 seconds; even here, however, try to keep boorish behavior in check.)
Rule 1: When you’re given a napkin, use it. Don’t let it sit beside your plate. It was given to you for wiping your face when you need to and to protect your lap from spills. Leaving it beside your plate marks you as a slob.
Rule 2: Wait for the host to pick up and unfold his napkin before you do the same with yours.
Rule 3: If the napkin is larger than your lap, fold it such that it just covers your lap.
Rule 4: In polite society, movements at the dinner table tend to be small, so don’t make any ostentatious displays like wildly shaking the napkin to open it. Just unfold it. And when you wipe your mouth, don’t use the napkin as you would a wash cloth during your morning shower; gently dab at your mouth.
Rule 5: Don’t wait for the food to be served before you open your napkin. Should your napkin still be sitting on the table when the food arrives, the server may have to create space to set your plate.
Rule 6: Should you have to leave the table during the meal, leave the napkin, loosely folded, on your seat or on the table to the left of your plate. Also put the loosely folded napkin to the left of your plate when you’re done eating, never on the plate.
Rule 7: The place for a napkin? In your lap. It is not tucked into your pants, nor does it belong tucked into your shirt collar. However, if you are in a milieu where that kind of behavior is acceptable, don’t be afraid to go along. For example, diners from Southern Italy (or southern New Jersey) have long known that a bowl of spaghetti topped with marinara sauce can be better enjoyed when you don’t have to worry about the red stuff splattering on your shirt. Many Italian and Italian-American diners therefore tuck the napkin into their collars as a matter of course. Feel free to do the same. Live! Enjoy!
But what about that waiter who carries a napkin draped over one arm? In part, it’s practicality. It’s readily available to mop up any accidental spills or other messes at your table. But the practice dates back a couple of hundred years in France; that was how waiters carried the napkins they would distribute to diners. Napkins have been in use for thousands of years.
It’s possible that cavemen at their wooly mammoth barbeques wiped the grease from their mouths using the animal’s pelt... and then rubbed it in their hair to get that suave, slicked-back look. But we don’t really know that. What we do know is that, by the Bronze Age, it’s likely something like a napkin was in use in many parts of the world. The first recorded use of the napkin was by the Romans. When that hearty eater, Buffetus Allucaneatus, reached for his napkin at the Roman dinner table, he didn’t find a cloth. What he used was some wadded up unbaked dough, which he pressed to his face. That removed whatever bits and morsels of food were sticking to it. Later, if he wished, he could bake and eat his napkin, morsels and all.
Scottish Recipes
With the fall of Rome, Europe entered that slovenly, napkin-less period of the Dark Ages, with its uncouth barons and unwashed princesses wiping their hands on their tunics and mopping their faces with their shirttails and cuffs. We don’t know how knights encased in steel armor managed to wipe off their mouths.
By the time of the Renaissance, the French had a single, large communal napkin about the size of a table cloth which everyone at the table used. It may have been the precursor of the table cloth. It got smaller and smaller over the years until everyone had his own napkin. By the 1700’s, the French aristocracy had even promulgated rules of napkin etiquette, some of which we still use today throughout the Western world; e.g., we don’t blow our nose into our napkin. Or anyone else’s napkin, either.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top 6 Bridesmaids ideas

This week we celebrate Bridesmaids.
Today we want to share our top bridesmaids dress ideas.  

1. Neutrals: There's something about neutral bridesmaids
dresses that look uber elegant. So don't be afraid to try this 
non-traditional look.Tip: This color goes well with 
white or blush toned florals. 
Source: People

2. Patterns: Who says you have to have solid colored
bridesmaids dresses. Opt for a print pattern for a fun, playful 
look and event! You can choose floral prints, polka dots, 
animal prints, the options are endless!
Source: Ruffled

3. Pastels: We absolutely love pastel bridesmaids dresses!
This light and whimsical look is perfect for spring and summer weddings.
Source: Green Wedding Shoes

4. Mismatched: Mismatched bridesmaids dresses are
all the rage nowadays. We don't think this trend 
will go away, nor do we want it to. Go ahead and let
 your bridesmaids get creative and show their own style. 
Source: Jessica Lorren 

5. Lace: Bridesmaids can wear lace too! This look is classic and timeless. 
Source: Belle the Magazine

6. Ombre: Last but not least. We love it when bridesmaids
are asked to choose different tones in a color. 
You can get a beautiful ombre look like this one. 
Source: Southern Weddings

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

20 Questions to ask a wedding planner

Article by Beth Angel
Hiring a wedding planner is not an easy decision. A good wedding planner can make your wedding flow smoothly. It can also be an additional strain on your budget. You may want to take the time to meet with one or two wedding planners before you make your final decision. Here are some questions to help you.
1. What is your experience in planning weddings?
Ask for specific examples complete with photos and testimonials.
2. How long have you been in business & how many weddings have you done?
Look for a wedding planner who has experience and knows the ins and outs of wedding planning.
3. What will you offer me for your services?
Ask the planner to spell out what his or her services are in specific detail. A sample written proposal should be available at the initial meeting. A written proposal specific to your wedding should follow the initial meeting.
4. Do you provide a contract?
A professional wedding planner will provide you with a contract outlining his or her terms of service. It should include a clause about cancellations.
5. How much of my time do you expect planning my wedding will take?
Ask for a schedule and ballpark figures on how much time you will spend on making decisions for your wedding.
6. Can you work within my budget?
A good wedding planner will be honest with you on the subject of what it will cost to make the wedding you want. He or she will figure in his or her fee and not surprise you when it comes time to settle up.
7. Is this your full-time or part-time job? Do you foresee any conflicts in this situation?
A part-time planner is often less expensive than a full-time wedding planner. Just be sure you are comfortable with his or her arrangement.
8. Do you double book weddings? Will there be any conflicts on the day or weekend of my wedding?
Some wedding planners manage this quite well. Ask the planner his or her plans to make sure your wedding is first priority.
9. Who backs you up? Do you have extra staff and is there an extra charge?
Ask the wedding planner to be specific. You don't want any surprises on your wedding day.
10. Do we pay you one fee and then you pay the vendors, or do we pay the vendors individually?
Many vendors require deposits or final payments before your event. Knowing the payment structure is very important and avoids confusion.
11. Are you available for all meetings with the caterer, location and other vendors?
The answer to this question gives you insight into how much your wedding planner cares about even the smallest of details. Ask if the planner will be there to walk you through these important steps.
12. Will you personally attend my wedding?
A professional wedding planner will always say yes. If not, ask why and be cautious of anyone who says they will not attend. *See #14
13. If you cannot attend my wedding? Who is your backup? Will I meet him or her beforehand?
Some planners have an assistant or staff that may attend. There shouldn't be any extra fees for this.
14. What's in your wedding emergency kit?
A professional wedding planner will show it to you or give you a list of its contents. It should include items from a sewing needle and thread to aspirin.
15. Do you charge for travel or is it included in your fee?
Ask to have this spelled out in his or proposal.
16. Give me some problem scenarios and how you fixed them.
A good wedding planner will give you examples of weddings similar to your situation.
17. Do you require a deposit to get started? When is the final payment due?
This should be spelled out in his or her proposal at your initial meeting.
18. Do you charge for the initial meeting?
There should never be a charge for the first meeting. Both parties come to the table to discuss how they will work together. Think of it as an interview.
19. Do you have any formal event planning education?
Formal education from a finishing school, culinary, design or hospitality school is a plus, especially when the wedding planner has other essential qualifications. Membership in a professional organization shows that a wedding planner cares about his or her reputation and is committed to their profession.
20. What will you not do?
This is probably the second most important question. Ask your wedding planner to spell this out in his or her proposal and/or agreement.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Questions to Ask a Caterer

Questions to Ask a Caterer
Besides your location, the food and drink for your wedding reception will probably consume the largest portion of your wedding budget. Catering costs
 are usually presented as “per-person” charges, sometimes abbreviated in
wedding brochures as “pp” after the amount. But be aware—the per-person
charge often doesn’t include everything: Tax and the gratuity (sometimes
called the “service charge”) might be extra, and there may also be separate per-person charges for the meal, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and even setup. So your actual per-person charge might end up being considerably more than you expect. Bring your calculator along when meeting with potential caterers to help you arrive at the real bottom line.
There’s more to consider. Nowadays, many caterers offer a range of services in addition to catering. Some are actual “event producers,” providing props, special effects, décor—in other words, complete event design. They might also be able to assist in finding a location, coordinating your affair, or lining up vendors. One thing a caterer can’t do, however, is cook up a 5-course Beef Wellington dinner for $20 per person. When planning your menu, be realistic about what you can serve given your budget and the size of your guest list.
A lot of factors come into play when selecting a caterer, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. You can refer to the following list, whether your potential caterer works at your event facility or you’re hiring them independently.    

The Basics
1. Do you have my date open?
2. How many weddings do you do per year, and how long have you been in business?
3. Have you done events at my location? TIP: If you haven’t chosen your location yet, ask the caterer if they can help you select one.
4. Are you licensed by the state of California? Are you licensed to serve alcohol?
5. Will I need any permits for my event? If so, will you handle obtaining them?
6. Will you provide a banquet manager to coordinate the meal service or an on-site coordinator who will run the entire event?
7. Can you assist with other aspects of the wedding like selecting other vendors, event design (e.g. specialty lighting, elaborate décor, theme events, etc.)?

Food & Presentation
8. Given my budget, guest count and event style, what food choices would you recommend? Do you specialize in certain cuisines?
9. Do we have to work off a preset menu or can you create a custom menu for our event? If I have a
special dish I’d like served, would you accommodate that?
10. Do you offer event packages or is everything à la carte? What exactly do your packages include?
11. Do you use all fresh produce, meat, fish, etc.? Can you source organic or sustainably farmed ingredients?
12. Can you accommodate dietary restrictions, such as kosher, vegan, etc.?
13. What décor do you provide for appetizer stations or buffet tables?
14. Do you offer package upgrades such as chocolate fountains, ice sculptures, cappuccino machines or specialty displays?
15. Can you do theme menus (e.g. barbecue, luau, etc.)? Would you also provide the décor?
16. What’s the difference in cost between passed appetizers and appetizer stations? What’s the price difference between a buffet and a sit-down meal? If we have a buffet, are there any stations that cost extra, like a carving station? NOTE: Don’t automatically assume that a buffet is going to be the less expensive option. Ask your caterer which type of service is more affordable for you, given the menu you’re planning.
17.          How much do you charge for children’s meals?
18.          How much do you charge for vendor meals?
19.          Do you do wedding cakes? If so, is this included in the per-person meal price or is it extra?
20.          Can you show me photos of cakes you’ve done in the past?
21.          If I decide not to serve cake, can you provide a des- sert display instead?
22.          If we use an outside cake designer, do you charge a cake-cutting fee?
23.          Do you do food tastings and is there an extra charge for this?
24.          Do you handle rental equipment such as tables, chairs, etc.?
25.          What types of linens, glassware, plates and flatware do you provide? NOTE: Some low-budget caterers have basic packages that use disposable dinnerware instead of the real thing, so make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting.
26.          Can you provide presentation upgrades such as chair covers, lounge furniture, Chiavari chairs, etc.? What would be the additional fees?
27.          What is your policy on cleanup? TIP: Be very clear about what “cleanup” means and who’s responsible for handling it—and be sure to get it in writing. We’ve heard many tales about caterers that left dirty dishes, trash and uneaten food behind. In most cases, when you rent a location it will be YOUR responsibility to leave the place in acceptable condition. You want to spend your wedding night with your honey, not picking up empty bottles from the lawn!
28.          If there is leftover food from my event, can we have it wrapped up for guests to take home or have it delivered to a local shelter?

29.          Do you provide alcoholic beverages and bartenders? Can you accommodate specialty cocktails?
30.          What brands of alcohol will be served?
31.          Can we provide the alcohol and you provide the bar labor?
32.          Do you charge a corkage fee if we provide our own wine or champagne?
33. How do you charge for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages? Per consumption or per person? Which is more cost-effective?
34. Is the champagne toast after the ceremony included in your meal packages or is it extra?
35. Will your staff serve the wine with dinner? 36. How long will alcohol be served?
37. Is coffee and tea service included with the per-per- son meal charge? What brands of each do you offer and do they include decaf and herbal tea options?

Business Matters
38. What is the ratio of servers to guests?
39. How will the servers be dressed?
40. How is your pricing broken down (e.g. food, bar, cake-cutting, tax, gratuity)? NOTE: Usually tax and aservice charge are tacked on to your final cost. The service charge, which can range 18–23%, is used to tip the staff. And in many states, the service charge itself is taxable.
41. How much time do you require for setting up and breaking down my event, and are there extra fees for this?
42. If my event runs longer than contracted, what are your overtime fees?
43. What is the last date by which I can give you a final guaranteed guest count?
44. What is your payment policy? Do you accept credit cards?
45. How much of a deposit is required to hold my date? When is the final payment due?
46. Are there any fees that won’t be included in the proposal that we should be aware of?
47. Once we book with you, how quickly can we expect a contract? And if we make changes to menu choices or other items, will you update us with a revised estimate and contract?
48. What is your refund or cancellation policy?.