Radio Interview Transcript


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen. 
DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today is Lois Pearce. She is the owner of Beautiful Occasions, a bridal consultant firm in Hamden, Connecticut. Good morning, Lois, welcome to the program.
LOIS: Good morning.
DAMIEN: We are going to be talking about something completely different from what we normally talk about, but what is the difference for the listening audience between a bridal consultant and a wedding planner, Lois?
LOIS: Well I’ll give you the difference. Really it’s one that is defined by the person themselves who is in business. Certainly a consultant is one you would seek advice or guidance from in any business. A planner is someone who has foresight and can also provide you guidance. In the area of being a bridal consultant or a wedding planner, it kind of is interchangeable. It is someone who is going to be able to assist you either on short term or on an hourly basis or someone that will see you through the entire process. There is another different term and that would be a wedding producer. And that person orchestrates all aspects of the wedding from design to execution. And they may have a staff or partner with specific service providers to execute the actual wedding itself.
DAMIEN: Now you have over two decades of being a bridal consultant for brides all over the place. You’ve decided that you are going to start teaching people how to become a consultant and would be Bridal Consulting by Lois Pearce. What kind of training or education would a prospective consultant need, Lois? What is the program you are teaching?
LOIS: I have a program and this is based on my experience, because when I started there was no one out there to really help someone start a wedding consulting business. So what I’ve put together is a program that focuses more on the business aspect, marketing, advertising, how to structure your business, how to network, who you should be networking with, and importantly, how you should be able to relate to a bride when you are working with them. I feel you can pick up etiquette books from the library, from your local bookstore, but more importantly, is you have to have an understanding of the inside of the business.
DAMIEN: You have been doing this for over 20 years now, how long will it take to become “great” at a bridal consultant?
LOIS: Greatness is a work of art. I feel you are “great” when you are respected by others. It’s not a title that you give to yourself. When you are respected by your clients, your former clients, and people in the industry, they you are working towards greatness. But it’s not an arrival point. Certainly there are celebrity planners that everyone knows, but they are only great if it’s the type of person that you need to provide the service for your wedding. I feel it’s an arrival point. It’s not a destination.
DAMIEN: Is it something that people are born to? If you’re teaching the class, I’m assuming this is something people can learn.
LOIS: Yes. There are certain aspects that you need to have. Patience is one of them. A willingness for change. The adaptability to different sites working with different people and it does come from within. Even though someone may be willing to execute what may be a beautiful event, in order to be great at this, you have to be able to work with people and you have to be empathetic and you have to be willing to both give and take to make this business a success.
DAMIEN: Now let’s kind of breakdown what kind of requisites for the job are. How does a consultant help the bride on her special day?
LOIS: Well first of all, they generally would be on hand at the wedding rehearsal to oversee, not necessarily take charge, but to over see and working with the officiate that things go smoothly, that people are in the place they should be, that there is the ceremony, processional, recessional, working smoothly and people feel comfortable so that on the day of the wedding, they will just step into their places and it will execute nicely. On the day of the wedding, generally a consultant starts at the point a bride may be getting ready, because frankly if the bride isn’t ready, you can’t start a wedding. So you start with the bride at her home or hotel or wherever it is and you make sure that she is breathing and is comfortable things are going as they should be flowers have arrived, photographer may be on site, that the limousine may show up and this is where sometimes it’s important. As a matter of fact, more time it’s an important that the consultant also has someone who is working with them, because you obviously can’t be in two places. While you are working at the brides home or wherever she is getting dressed, there are also things that may be beginning to happen at the ceremony site, and you need someone there to over see those things until you can physically get there and make sure they are working ok as well. At the ceremony site, you will be the one who will be making sure that everything that you have planned at the rehearsal is happening. That everyone is lined up, that they are ready to go, that any guest that comes in during the ceremony that there is someone available to seat those guests or that you are able to facilitate moving people to the appropriate area. After the ceremony is over, they are formed in their receiving line. That the cars are there to take the bridal party to the reception, that you are going to the reception and making sure that everything that has been ordered is in place, making sure the flow of the evening or afternoon goes well, and that at the end of the evening, if there are any lose ends that need to be tied up, you are the one to make sure that all these things happen so that the couple can just enjoy the night and the parents and family can enjoy it as well. Then even the day after is now what is called an afterglow and you may be asked to be present at that to make sure that, and this could be a hospitality breakfast or brunch, that again, needs some overseeing to make sure things are going smoothly and even beyond that you may be asked to return tuxedos or return rental items. Your task could actually go from the day before the wedding until a few days after the wedding. So it’s not just the wedding day itself.
DAMIEN: What steps does someone need to take to get started as a wedding consultant?
LOIS:  I feel you need to do your homework first of all and find out that this is something that is of interest to your community. Most persons who are successful with this are in more of a metropolitan area rather than in smaller communities. So I would recommend you speak with wedding professionals in the area and find out if this really is a viable business for you. Even though I have been in business for 20+ years, I still attend weddings where I’m working with vendors who for the very first time are working with a wedding consultant and have no clue what a wedding consultant really is supposed to do. They certainly may have seen some of the movies, but they have never really worked with one. So you need to find out if there is a business there, or whether this is a dream you have that you might be able to do more part time than full time, but I would suggest that you do your homework first.
DAMIEN: Now there are a lot of “Do-it-Yourself” choices, there’s a lot of different sources of information. How does someone stand out doing this? What is the best piece of advice you can give to anyone considering becoming a wedding consultant?
LOIS: I feel you must accept the mindset that you are a team player. Those who are consultants that feel they are the one who is totally in charge of everything don’t get the respect, again going back to greatness, don’t get the respect of the people in the industry and so therefore, you don’t get the referrals you get from other wedding professionals, because you have chosen to be more of a Gestapo rather than someone who is part of a team. The important thing is to be a team player. Develop your network of wedding professionals. Mine is ongoing all the time, because there are new people in the industry they are persons who are fading away from the industry. So you constantly have to have a portfolio of people who make your business look good. Just because they are a photographer, he or she may not be a great photographer. Have the respect of their piers and if you are going to be making referrals, you want to make sure you are surrounding yourself with good professionals, because they can help your business look good and you can help their business look good as well.
DAMIEN: What type of monetary investment would be needed in something like this, and is there lots of travel involved?
LOIS: The cost of training to become a wedding consultant may vary anywhere from perhaps $500 to as much as $1,500 depending on whether you are taking a home study course or whether you are taking a course that may be offered in a college setting. I offer a course in wedding consulting, it’s a four part course and the course itself depending on the time that it is offered can be anywhere from $400 - $600 with a certificate at the end of the course. Monetary investment can be low budget, or it can be several thousand dollars. Now by low budget what I mean is, “Yes, you could establish yourself by having some business cards printed especially if you are someone who is coming from the corporate world and you have some event planning experience to a nice transition. You could have business cards created, you could join a few associations, join some networking groups, and have a lap top computer or separate telephone line and access to the internet and begin your business. And that could be maybe I would say, “Maybe a couple thousand dollars.” It is not necessary in this day and age to have a brick and mortar office, although, in time it is something you may want to consider depending on how you structure your business. Whether you are going to add other services to your business and you need the space to both see clients in and to show products and services. So the investment could be a little bit higher then, but I don’t recommend starting there, because you need to get a business and understand that for the first couple of years a lot of the investment that you make in your business is returned by obtaining clients, but then that’s going into the business so you can now begin to get other avenues of exposure so you really are not making money during the first couple of years of the business. Is there a lot of travel? Well I think that also depends on what is considered a lot. It would be wonderful if you could only conduct your business within a certain geographical area, but in more cases than not, you don’t know where your next client is going to come from and you also don’t predict exactly the kind of wedding that they may or may not have. So you may have to do a lot of local travel, by visiting sites with brides and then visitations with your bride for meetings and then of late many brides are also choosing destinations as an opportunity for their wedding. So you may have to travel outside of both your local area, but outside of the country in order to plan a wedding. So yes there could be a good deal of travel, local and expanded.
DAMIEN: Now as with any business, especially businesses that are involved in the wedding industry, there are associations. Should someone who has gone through this route and become a consultant, should they join an association of wedding consultants? And how does the association help a consultant?
LOIS: I absolutely feel it is a must to join an association. There are advantages that you will gain by being a member of an association that you can’t get working alone. There are ongoing education, there is networking, there is opportunities to find out what is going on in the industry by being part of an association. And there are several that are available. I think one of the largest may be the Association of Bridal Consultants. There is National Bridal Service has an association. There is Wedding Professionals International. There are probably about ten. Do a Google search and put in wedding consulting organizations and the organizations will come up and there are several event organizations that are available as well. It also is an opportunity to show your credibility if you are able to use the logo of these associations on your business card, on your website. It shows the bride that you are trying to keep saw sharp by being involved in organizations and you also get a little more respect from your peers if you show, again, that you are a part of an organization.
DAMIEN: Well if someone wants more information on becoming a wedding consultant, how do they get ahold of you? What is the contact information they need?
LOIS: They contact me through the website or give me a phone call at (203) 248-2661 or send me an email at
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Lois.
LOIS: I am so happy to have been able to share this information, and I wish everyone who is looking at this as a career option all the best luck in the world.
DAMIEN: Thank you very much for joining us today. My name is Damien Allen.   Everyone have a great afternoon.
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