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The Wylderwood: Part Five

Harks, Nezzy, and Lochlan are still in the midst of their battle with the dross and the pitwyrm, and now all the leaders of the realm have been turned into a magical tree! How are they going to get out of this on their own, without help from their mentors? Tune in to find out!

Draw us a picture of what you think any of the characters in this story look like, and then tag us in it on instagram @storiespodcast! We’d love to see your artwork and share it on our feed!!

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You can also thank today’s sponsors. When you support our sponsors, you support our show! Here are the details from today’s episode:

The Crayola Mask Pack: When it comes to making the best mask for you and your family, the Crayola Mask Pack has perfected every detail. Get your family the Crayola School Mask Pack TODAY at SchoolMaskPack.com/STORIES. 

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How to Become a Wedding Planner in 8 Simple Steps

Wedding planning is one of the toughest jobs in the events industry. It’s also one of the most important, as well as one of the most rewarding. Planners oversee almost every aspect of the wedding timeline. They’re in charge of doing everything they can to ensure that a couple’s wedding is everything they expect it to be — and more.

“Being in the wedding and event industry has its challenges, but there is nothing better than seeing months and months of hard work come together to create the most perfect wedding day,” wrote Denise Ferdinand of the Fairy Godmother Wedding & Event Planning Company in a post on their website. “Watching all the hard work unfold is one of the most rewarding experiences that this business has to offer. In this business you continuously get closer to your clients and that is what makes their wedding so special and unique, watching your work bring your client’s dreams to life is such a magical feeling.”

Want to learn how to become a wedding planner? Keep reading! In this post, we go over the steps you can take to get started, as well as things you can do once you get your feet off the ground. We also answer a handful of frequently asked questions about wedding planning.

Discover how to become a wedding planner in 8 steps:

Step 1: Establish clear-cut wedding planning goals.

These goals will probably change over time, and that’s OK. But it’s important to head into any endeavor with a plan. Do you dream of planning celebrity weddings, a la Mindy Weiss? Maybe you want to work with venues in your hometown to give locals the day of their dreams. What if you want to travel the world and throw destination weddings on tropical islands and Italian lakes? The options are endless — it’s truly up to you!

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Step 2: Conduct industry research.

Once you have your goals, start researching how you’re going to reach them. To get started, form a list of questions you don’t know the answer to. How much money can I make? Are wedding planners in high demand? How can I get my first client? Just like goals, make it a priority to research the market before getting started. And this post is a great place to start! Additionally, check out industry studies such as WeddingWire’s Newlywed Report and Brides.com’s American Wedding Study.

Step 3: Consider formal wedding planner training.

You don’t need a special degree or certification to become a wedding planner. But if you want to head into the industry and you have little-to-no experience, learning the ropes and all of the ins and outs can be extremely beneficial. The American Association of Certified Wedding Planners, for example, was “created by wedding professionals who saw the need for an organization dedicated to the education of those seeking to become wedding planners, and to elevate those already in the field through certification and continuing education.” The organization offers in-person and online training. Students have two months to complete the course and are then eligible to apply for a membership as a Trained Wedding Planner.

Another option is the Lovegevity Wedding Planning Institute, which offers a course for people interested in becoming a Certified Wedding and Event Planner. The average time to complete the course is 8-12 weeks, and graduates receive a certificate, letter of recommendation, and the professional Certified Wedding and Event Planning designation. “I would highly recommend Lovegevity courses to those who are willing to take the plunge and go after your dreams,” wrote one graduate. “The Certified Wedding Planner course was the perfect curriculum I needed to reassure that I am going in the right directions.”

Step 4: Write a business plan.

Remember those Step 1 goals and the Step 2 research? A lot of that information can go towards writing your business plan. There are tons of resources and templates online to help, and we go into greater detail in a separate post, The Essential Steps to Starting an Event Management Business. Here are some highlights of what your business plan should include:

  • Executive summary. Write down your goals and your mission statement. Map out why you think your business will succeed — and how you’ll go about doing it.
  • Company summary. Is the wedding planning business going to be just you, or do you plan on having a team? Include your backstory, location, and just about anything else you’d share on your website’s “about” section.
  • Products and services to be offered. This is where you go into detail about what you are and aren’t going to offer. Plus, how much are you going to charge? Who do you consider your immediate competition? Don’t forget to establish ways that you can stand out.
  • Market analysis summary. Explore who your target audience is and map out ways to gain their business.
  • Strategy and implementation summary. Come up with a sales strategy, a sales forecast, and milestones you hope to hit.
  • Management summary. This will vary depending on the amount of planning teammates you plan on having, if any. This section includes an organizational structure and a personnel plan.
  • Financial plan. This section includes your anticipated fixed and variable expenses, marketing costs, taxes, etc. It also includes a break-even analysis, projected profit and loss, projected cash flow, projected balance sheet, and business ratios.

Step 5: Create a marketing plan.

Whether you want to be an independent planner, part of an agency, or anything in between, your business will have a hard time taking off without the right marketing plan. Just like wedding venue marketing, wedding planner marketing is all about understanding what couples want and then reaching those couples on the channels that they use. Here are a few tips:

  • Utilize social media. Pinterest alone brings in approximately 40 million people each year for wedding planning guidance. If you don’t already have a presence, make that a priority. And the same thing goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Post often — but not just for the sake of posting — and utilize relevant hashtags to reach more people.
  • Start blogging. Whether this is a blog on your website or guest posts on various wedding blogs and magazines, this is a great way to gain recognition and use your voice to provide value.
  • Leverage reviews and testimonials. A 2019 WeddingWire study states that, aside from price, reviews and photos are the “most important features couples look at when deciding which vendors to initially contact.” Give couples you’ve worked with an easy way to review your services, and be sure to share those reviews on your website and social media platforms.
  • Work with publications. Getting featured in a local or national publication can provide a significant boost to your business. Reach out to outlets and pitch them on a unique angle. Also, make yourself available for Q&As. Bonus points if you get a link back to your website, blog, or social media profiles. Backlinks are SEO gold.

Step 6: Find the tools you need to be a successful wedding planner.

For this section, let’s take a look at a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that two people order the same dresser from an online furniture company. It arrives at their houses in three boxes, and there are about a dozen bags of screws, nuts, and bolts. Person A has a toolbox with a hammer, screwdriver, drill, and much more. Person B has nothing but their hands and some super glue. Which person is going to be more efficient in putting together the dresser?

When it comes to growing a business, it isn’t much different. That’s where Social Tables comes in. Our software can help grow your business in a variety of ways, and it’s used by professional wedding planners and DIY brides alike all across the world. Get started by checking out our free 3D wedding design software.

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“We researched several companies that offer similar services, and ultimately found Social Tables to be the best fit for us,” wrote Kate Turner of Kate & Company. “At any given time we could be working on over 100 different layouts. Social Tables offerings and customer service are second to none and that’s why they are the best fit for Kate & Company and our family of businesses.”

Additional useful wedding planning tools and software include Wedding Spot, Joy, WeddingWire, Carats & Cake, and Zola.

Step 7: Start forging industry-wide relationships.

Whether it’s with venues, couples, vendors, or other planners, the importance of relationship building can’t be overstated. The opportunities that arise from networking are endless.

“Your business is going to thrive because of the relationships you build, now and throughout the next few years,” wrote Lauren Weidley of Chancey Charm Weddings in an Aisle Planner blog post. ” … Any good business (in my opinion) started with relationship; a business partner, a first bride, a vendor team that meshed really well. It all started somewhere.

“Give yourself grace and time to make those connections. Sometimes you make 10 at once at an industry event and sometimes it’s a shot in the dark and an Instagram message to that photographer (whose) work you’ve admired forever! Reach out, because you never know what friendship might come out of it!”

Step 8: Don’t stop learning.

Just about every successful person, no matter the industry, remains a student of their profession. Wedding planning is no different. There will be ups and downs, roadblocks, and never-before-seen scenarios. Look at those as opportunities to learn and grow.

“The best wedding planners have a ‘never stop learning’ mindset,” Heather Hoesch, owner of LVL Weddings & Events, told Brides.com. “They read, they watch webinars and social media lives, they collaborate and listen to podcasts. They take courses, attend workshops and conferences.”

Frequently asked questions about how to become a wedding planner:

Do you need a degree to be a wedding planner?

No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Your level of education depends on the type of wedding planning business you’re trying to be a part of. If your goal is to be your own boss and run your own one-person business, no college degree is required. However, a degree in a hospitality or event-planning field can help better prepare you for the industry, and it may be preferred by some organizations.

How do wedding planners make their money?

Most wedding planners earn their money by charging a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of a couple’s wedding budget.

How long does it take to become a certified wedding planner?

It depends on the type of certification. A Wedding Planner Certificate from Online Courses Australia, for example, takes an estimated 12 study hours. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wedding Academy’s Certificate in Wedding Planning takes approximately three months.

Now that you know how to become a wedding planner, it’s time to get started!

You don’t have to have a degree in event planning to join the wedding industry. At the end of the day, it’s all about going above and beyond to make couple’s dreams come true. And now that you’ve read this guide, you’re already on your way!

Up next, check out the secrets to event planning and wedding taglines.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post How to Become a Wedding Planner in 8 Simple Steps appeared first on Social Tables.

Two Whats!? And A Wow! – Cry-Thru (encore)

Why is Mindy selling puppy dog calendars from her window? And what does this have to do with the science of tears?! We’ve got the questions AND the answers on today’s tearful round of Two Whats!? And A Wow! We’re challenging you to find the facts from the fiction about tears!

Old Teeth

Mama wants to make her favorite stew, and Old Papa is excited! But when his old dog and old cat have a hard time helping him get the ingredients, he gets really upset. Will Mama and Papa be able to have the delicious soup they’re hungry for?

Draw us a picture of what you think any of the characters in this story look like, and then tag us in it on instagram @storiespodcast! We’d love to see your artwork and share it on our feed!!

If you would like to support Stories Podcast, you can subscribe and give us a five star review on iTunes, head to patreon.com/stories and pledge to make a monthly donation, check out our merch at storiespodcast.com/shop, follow us on Instagram @storiespodcast, or just tell your friends about us! 

You can also thank today’s sponsors. When you support our sponsors, you support our show! Here are the details from today’s episode:

Purple Mattress: Experience the next evolution of sleep! Go to Purple.com/STORIES and use promo code STORIES. For a limited time you’ll get $150 off any Purple mattress order of $1500 or more! Terms apply 🙂

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Top 11 Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professionals

Ready to launch your virtual or hybrid events strategy? Discover our top 11 virtual event resources to hit the ground running.

If your company has shifted to a hybrid events strategy and wants to produce engaging and impactful virtual events, you need both a game plan and a toolkit.

Thankfully, we’ve created a wealth of resources to help you along the way. Here are 11 virtual event resources to check out.

1. Pivoting to Virtual Events: 10 Examples from Leading Brands

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - WSJ Health ForumSource: Wall Street Journal

Sometimes a virtual event just works well because the subject matter is so timely. That was the case with the Wall Street Journal’s Health Forum, which convened industry leaders and experts on March 24 to discuss the pandemic and other global health topics. 

The Journal is just one example of how brands have pivoted during this crisis. Check out the article to see what nine other brands have done and what you can learn from them.

2.Virtual Events 2020

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Events Directory for 2020Source: Bizzabo

Want to know who else is putting on a virtual event this year? Then look no further than our comprehensive list of 2020 virtual events and conferences. Use this list to learn how your peers are putting on well-executed virtual events and to gather ideas and inspiration for your own event. Plus, you can submit your event to be potentially featured, which should help your event gain more exposure and reach a wider audience. 

3. Virtual Conference Guide

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Events GuideSource: Bizzabo

If you need a game plan for how to execute your company’s virtual events strategy, start with this guide. It features examples and descriptions of different virtual events you can consider, advice for how to keep attendees engaged, how to integrate sponsors into your event, how to set KPIs to measure success, and five virtual event solutions to consider (hint: Bizzabo is one of them).

Looking to benchmark your virtual strategy? Check out our 7 must-know virtual event benchmarks analyzed from hundreds of virtual events that have taken place on our platform during the pandemic.

4. 19 Digital Gift Ideas for Virtual Events & Conferences

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Digital Gifts for Virtual Event ConferencesSource: TechCrunch

Swag bags and free goodies are one of the perks of attending in-person conferences, but just because conferences are going virtual doesn’t mean you’ll have to forgo the swag for attendees, partners, speakers or sponsors.

You can keep the digital theme going by giving them a digital gift. This list of 19 digital gift ideas will help you show them your gratitude. After all, who wouldn’t want a video shout-out from Snoop Dogg as a thank you?

5. (Almost) IN-PERSON On-Demand

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Almost IN-PERSONSource: Bizzabo

These days, everything feels like it’s taking place almost in-person and our (Almost) IN-PERSON virtual event was no different. Over 6,000 people registered, representing 1,536 companies and 70 countries. We even launched our first virtual event slack community to support the conversations long after the event had passed. (Almost) IN-PERSON demonstrated how Bizzabo has been able to pivot during the pandemic — using our own solutions to connect with a global community of event marketers. But more importantly, the event was filled with best practices and examples from other leading brands you can now access on-demand.

6. 20 Virtual Event Ideas

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Gainsight PulseCheckSource: PulseCheck

Even if you’re already put on or attended dozens of virtual events, if your well of ideas runs dry, this list can spark your creativity. It features 20 ideas for virtual events, using companies like Google, HubSpot and other niche brands as examples. One of our favorite ideas on the list is from the software company Gainsight. The company hosted a virtual event called PulseCheck in which it offered pre-recorded sessions free to new subscribers (in exchange for their email, of course). As a bonus, Gainsight can also repurpose the content from PulseCheck for future lead-generation activities— a win-win for the company. 

That’s just one example. Check out the full list for more.

7. 30 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Virtual Event Platform

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual event platform evaluationSource: Bizzabo

With so many virtual event platforms to choose from and so little time, it can be difficult to know if you’re making the right decision when your organization invests its hard-earned money in a particular product.

To take out some of the risk, you need to ask the right questions. These questions should focus on three key things: the virtual organizer experience, the virtual speaker experience and the virtual attendee experience. Read the article for 30 questions to get you started.

8.Going Hybrid Ebook

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Going HybridSource: Bizzabo

Our Going Hybrid ebook is a marketer’s bible for all things virtual events. This in-depth guide outlines the benefits of virtual and hybrid events, offers tips for how you can craft engaging virtual experiences and gives advice for how you can assess what tools you need to take your virtual event from concept to execution.

9. Beyond Virtual Happy Hours: 10 Remote Team-Bonding Ideas

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Team BondingSource: Bizzabo

One of the hardest things about social distancing for some people is missing the camaraderie and social atmosphere of the office. It’s hard to exactly mimic that in a virtual environment, but that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t at least try.

Though virtual happy hours seem to be gaining popularity, this list provides some ideas beyond that. Want to challenge your co-worker to a game of Texas Hold ‘em or learn how to make gnocchi from scratch? A virtual cooking class or board game night may be the perfect way to connect with your team in quarantine.

10. Virtual Event Production Kit

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Event Production KitSource: Bizzabo

Our virtual event production kit gives you everything necessary to successfully execute your event, including speaker kickoff and prep templates to deliver a best-in-class speaker experience as well as a production schedule to help you ensure your virtual event runs smoothly and on time.

Curious about how to get started with a virtual event production team? Check out our in-depth virtual event AV production guide to hit the ground running.

11. 10 Tools for Hosting a Virtual Event

Virtual Event Resources for Event and Marketing Professional - Virtual Experience SolutionSource: Bizzabo

Creating a virtual event that doesn’t bore attendees involves a lot more than just turning on Zoom and hoping for the best. You really need robust event management tools that allow you to deliver an actual experience — not just an event. There are plenty on the market to choose from, including Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams, but if you’ll forgive us for the utterly shameless plug, Bizzabo’s Virtual Experience Solution is pretty awesome, too. 

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re hosting a virtual event for the first time, simply pivoting until in-person events can safely resume, or are an experienced virtual event pro, these 11 resources can help your company connect with your audience digitally.

Hosting an engaging virtual event requires a good idea and technology and tools that enable you to transform that good idea into a great event. Whether you need an in-depth guide for how to create and execute a hybrid events strategy or a list of digital gift ideas for speakers attendees, all these resources should put you well on your way to creating memorable virtual experiences that move the needle for your business.

Discover how your peers are re-defining the industry by integrating a hybrid events strategy and share your perspectives on the evolution of events.

Two Whats!? And A Wow! – Kangaroo, How Do You Do? (encore)

Why is Guy Raz worried that Mindy’s ice cream will melt in her jeans?! And what does this have to do with kangaroos?! We’ve got the questions AND the answers on today’s hopping round of Two Whats!? And A Wow! We’re challenging you to find the facts from the fiction about kangaroos!

Two Whats!? And A Wow! – Wildest Dreams (encore)

Why was Mindy a maple syrup donut last night?! And what does this have to do with the science of dreams?! We’ve got the questions AND the answers on today’s dreamy round of Two Whats!? And A Wow! We’re challenging you to find the facts from the fiction about dreams!

Masks and mouth mist: What we know about the coronavirus now

Since the world first learned about this new coronavirus at the end of 2019, we’ve been watching science happen in real time. Scientists all over the world are studying this virus and learning how to protect us from it. As they learn new things, we learn new things too.

One thing they’ve learned is how this virus spreads. The primary culprit is droplets from our noses and mouths. That’s why masking up is so important to protect our communities.

We’ve also been hearing from a lot of listeners wanting to know about the future: when will the vaccine be ready? what will it be like at school? when will things go back to normal? We're going to do our best to answer some of these questions in our next coronavirus episode. But they don’t have concrete answers right now.

Right now, trying to look a month, or a year into the future is hard. We call this feeling of not knowing what will happen — uncertainty. And it’s hard to deal with.

Our brains likes being able to predict what’s going to happen because it makes us feel safe. When we feel unsafe, that’s when anxiety kicks in. 

One way to deal with this anxiety is to focus on the present — what’s happening right now. 

It’s also important to let yourself feel your feelings and know you’re not alone in them. It’s normal right now to feel frustrated, or angry, or sad, or all of them at the same time. But also try to think about the moments you have that are fun, and the times you feel contentment and happiness.

If you’re having trouble staying focused on the present there are some tricks you can try:

  • Look around you and make a list in your head of everything you see that is green.

  • Try to think of all the character’s names in your favorite book or tv show

  • Take deep breaths — inhale for four counts, hold that breath for four, and then exhale for four

  • Distract yourself by going outside, or watching a movie or reading a book. 

If you’re still having trouble keeping your mind off the “what ifs” it’s great to talk to your parents or another adult you trust.

There are always people who want to help you. If you need help and aren’t sure who to talk to, you can call 800 273-8255. It's a free phone call, and people are there all the time, ready to listen and help.

MORE: The Child Mind Institute has a lot of resources for families about how to deal with this uncertain time. (https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/)

This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and Native (nativedeo.com/brainson) – use promo code: BRAINSON at checkout.