What a whirlwind week it was as we hosted our first Social Light – The Art of Wedding Design event. Thank you so much to those who attended (it was a sold out event!) and all the wedding professionals for making this event possible. As we head into our busy wedding season, I thought it was important for me to recap the event again, remember the heart behind it, and write down all the lessons we’ve learned while planning this event, while looking forward to an even better Social Light 2012!
Social Light is conceptualized out of a desire to bring knowledge, tips and secrets of all the “how to’s” in creating an amazing wedding to Hawaii brides. I feel like there are alot of great wedding planning resources out there (websites, blogs, magazines…etc.), but most of these resources focus on helping brides book their vendors and vendors promoting their services. There’s really no resource available teaching brides how to plan a wedding right. If a bride doesn’t have a wedding planner, she is relying on her own knowledge on how to plan all the details of this big day. Yes, she has the best vendors hired, but now what? How will she program her wedding day timeline so she can enjoy herself on her own wedding day? Should she see the groom before the ceremony for photos, is that bad luck? What she can do to encourage her aunties and uncles to get on the dance floor at the reception? I feel that a bride usually plans her wedding based on the weddings she has attended, but what if all the weddings she’s attended are not the most exciting events? Will her wedding be just another wedding?
As a wedding planner, I am aware that not every bride thinks they will need a professional planner or they simply cannot afford one. But I think everyone deserves a great wedding! It’s been a passion of mine to take wedding planning and design education beyond sales, and create an event that provides substantial wedding planning education and will inspire brides to take their weddings to the next level. When I say taking bridal education beyond sales, I mean having vendors share their knowledge and tips with a common goal of educating the brides, NOT to promote their services. And when I say substantial bridal education, I mean sharing knowledge brides will not typically find in a wedding magazine or website (for example: boring topics such as timeline, budget, how to book your vendors…etc.), but knowledge only professionals can share from real event experience (for example: do guests really care about the favors? How do I get the biggest bang for my buck in terms of decor? How I can avoid guests from leaving early at the reception?).
With all these ideas in mind, I began inviting vendors to be a part of the event. It was really important for me that the vendors who are apart of SL understand the heart behind it: it is not a sales event, it’s an event to educate. Unlike regular advertising, it doesn’t cost the vendors any money to participate in the event. It was most important to me to select a wide range of vendors who are experts in their fields, super talented and really respected in the industry. Using photography as an example, I’ve invited Dave Miyamoto – a photography legend here in Hawaii who is well respected in the industry. Dave is a really down to earth kinda guy, and I know the attendees can easily relate to him and hear what he has to share. Frank Amodo is the other photographer I’ve invited – a super talented photographer with such an edge to his images. Dave and Frank have completely different styles and appeal to completely different clientele. It was important for me to have varieties at Social Light because at the end of the day, I am not trying to promote a vendor over another or to say one style is better than another, but to rely on these vendors to share their knowledge with our brides so they can have the tools they need to plan an amazing wedding. I have to say, one of my best moments from Social Light is seeing Frank, Dave and Michelle on stage, sharing so openly about all their “secrets” on what brides can do in partnership with their photographer in creating beautiful wedding images. It humbles me to see Dave and Frank, two photographers with completely different style, sitting on the same couch, so supportive and respectful of each other, sharing what they know with our brides! One neat thing about Social Light is the opportunity to bring vendors together, and I think we’ve achieved that.
Tristin and I learned so much planning Social Light, and I feel that this experience have definitely made us better event planners overall. Even though there were some really stressful times during the planning process, but I am so glad we pushed through. I’d say the most challenging part about putting on SL is marketing and promotion. From the very beginning, I know SL will be a fabulous event because I have control over how everything will look. I mean we plan events every weekend, and making sure everything looks amazing is what we do; however, I have never had to promote a public event. How do I get people to come to a first time event? Since it is a first time event, I thought it will be smart for us to hire a PR company to help us with media relations. It was a great experience working with our PR guy Nathan. He is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to social media, and I have definitely gained great knowledge on how the media works. While marketing the event, I was shocked to experience some sabotaging, but I think this is unavoidable when it comes to “business”. For those of you who know me and have worked with me, you will know that I do not have a competitive nature. Social Light is an event created for the brides, and to bring the industry together, not to divide. This experience became a major bump along the road, but again, I am so glad we pushed through. It was hard for me to not let this experience dampen our mood, because it is hurtful when all we are trying to do is to put on a positive event, but others are trying to say otherwise. During this time, I just had to remind myself that it is our role to put on a great event, and let God take care of the rest. Planning Social Light was actually a really good reminder of how it feels to be a bride again: the anticipation, the unknown, the preparation. But in the end, just like planning a wedding, as long as all the preparations are done right, going with the flow on the day of the event always works best!
Alot of vendors are already asking if there will be a Social Light 2012. Well, I am happy to say that we are definitely exploring options, and have already started brainstorming ideas for SL 2012. SL 2012 will be bigger and will involve more vendors. There will also be breakout sessions for brides to choose from based on their topic of interests. And of course, our signature after party will remain. Be sure to follow this blog, and we will be announcing Social Light 2012 in the Fall.
Phew… now this is one LONG blog! It’s been such a joy conceptualizing and planning Social Light. Thank you again to all the vendors for believing in the event and the idea behind it. For those of you who missed SL, you can read about it in our live blog from the event. To view the highlight video from the event, click here.
Until next year… aloha! ~ Sandra