Monday, June 29, 2009

PUPPY LOVE - Spreading The Love On A Hot, Hot Day.

(this one is for my puppy love clients, present and future ;-))

All my dogs have loved ice cream...dripping from the cone, slurping the bottom of my bowl, pushing a cup of Frosty Paws across the patio. My fabulous pup hotel Applewood Pet Resort makes the good stuff available to the "kid" when we drop her off and J. is such a sucker when they ask how many they should give her.

I recently started taking Zuri to Fido's Fun House for nail trims and Janice, our groomer, let me in on a secret - "it's really easy to make".

Last night we made our first batch of PB & Banana ice cream for Zuri. In it's most simplistic form, it's just a 50/50 blend of plain yogurt and peanut butter, whirled in the blender until smooth, then poured in Dixie Cups to freeze. We did a bit more. I tried it and it turned out great. Vary the ingredients to taste, here's what we did:

16 oz. Fage Greek Yogurt
1 really big scoop of Skippy Peanut Butter
1/2 banana

Super easy, just blended til smooth and since I'm Ms. Eco-Green, we poured into ice trays. This made 2 ice trays worth plus. Zuri loves it so much that she sat next to me while I emptied the trays into storage and as scraps fell to the floor, happily licked them clean ;-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Green Wedding Friday - Eco-Friendly Table Linens

My friends at BBJ Linen Rentals have the prettiest linen - made completely from recycled plastic bottles! You can see Natural Botela online or at their Phoenix Showroom.

Thanks to my girl Julie Horvath for turning me on to this pretty green fabric!

Natural Botela Fabric

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get Married Your Way - July 18, 2009 Only

colling photography
I wanted to extend to my readers an offer being made by Phillip and Gwen Waring of Bella Vista Chapel in Scottsdale, AZ. They can be reached at 480-502-0707 The beautiful image is by

I thought this an interesting concept, so I will be photographing two of the weddings offered that day with payment agreed in the same manner as the chapel. Please read on and let me know what you think of Phil's idea and how you might participate.

Phil writes:

I could not believe the first time I heard the guarantee advertised by Omaha Steaks. "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back." I thought, "How could anyone do that?"

Surely people would take advantage and get their money back by demanding a refund for perfectly fine meat. But the meat warranty continues today and with uncertain courage, the same guarantee has been adopted by Arizona Ministers. If a couple is unhappy with anything I say or do, I will give them their money back.

Interestingly, in my 32 years of leading weddings, no one has ever asked for their money back. I have given three couples all or part of what they paid me because I wasn't happy about something, but I have never been 'taken advantage of' because I offer guaranteed quality.

Nothing gives confidence like an iron-clad, money-back, satisfaction guaranteed warrantee. Hampton Inn will refund your money if you are unhappy. That proclamation of quality assurance gives consumers confidence that this business wants to keep doing business by doing things right.

Now, a new challenge to demonstrate quality has been introduced in the valley. The Wrigley Mansion Club has been offering meals on their lunch menu priced: pay what you think it's worth.

As with the meat warranty, when I read this I shook my head and asked, "How could any business survive letting the customer determine the value?" Surely someone will leave two cents for a $7.50 club sandwich!

You don't see The Wrigley Mansion Club, annual dues $10, on the black list of distressed, foreclosing, or for sale hotels, resorts, golf courses and restaurants in Arizona. In fact, The Wrigley Mansion Club seems to be doing pretty well in-spite of the customers determining the price of lunch.

I have to admit, I am challenged. Can I step-up to letting a couple decide the value of their marriage officiant?

Does the average bride and groom know that I have a mortgage, health insurance, car costs and all the expenses they have? Would they just tip me $10 when I have invested thousands of dollars in marketing and advertising so they could find me in the first place? Are people that cheap and insensitive?

I am willing to trust people.

July 18, a couple can get married by me, at Chapel Bellavista, with up to 30 guests and pay what they think it was worth. We'll have the chapel ice cold, the cactus garden groomed and lots of chilled sweet water from our well. The bridal suite and the bell tower will be theirs. The entire day is available for this two-hour wedding package.

Is there a florist that will provide flowers for whatever our couple thinks they are worth? Let me know NOW.

Is there a invitation shop that will print invitations for whatever our couple thinks they are worth? Let me know NOW.

Is there a musician or music group that would perform for whatever our couple thinks they are worth? Let me know NOW.

Is there a photographer that will spend two hours, provide photos and get paid whatever our couple thinks they are worth? Let me know NOW.

Is there a video company that will shoot, edit and give a DVD for whatever our couple thinks it's worth? Let me know NOW.

Don't know if anyone will join me, but I am going to offer this wedding to any couple for whatever they think it's worth! Will anyone do their reception for what the couple thinks it's worth? Let me know NOW.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Negotiating Wedding Costs - The Hidden Dangers

Found this on "The Wedding Marketing Blog" and thought it was just to fun not to share...the video, that is, not the message behind it.

While this video makes fun of the way people try to negotiate prices, this is a real issue in the wedding industry from a couple of different viewpoints.

The first and most important, is that many couples are simply not well educated on how to budget their wedding expenses. Reading magazines is just not enough. Investing in a consultation with a professional wedding planner is a first step many never take and the result is a free fall into budget chaos.

On the flip side, wedding price points are not standardized. There is so much that goes into consideration of setting prices, from level of customer service, to quality of product and experience. It makes it very difficult for the consumer to compare costs, so many times they find something they like and try to negotiate the price to something lesser they saw.

Add to this the economy and new people coming into the industry every day who are willing to give away service even to the detriment of the client and you have a disasterous wedding planned. Couples just don't know that service is one of the most important commodities of their wedding day. Here are some examples:

Baker #1: Started baking for friends and 6 months ago started their Wedding Cake business with no business skills but a love of the craft. She offers a 3 tier cake for 100 guests for $500 and will take $50 off if you pick up the cake.

Baker #2 Has been voted Best Wedding Cake of Your City for the past 3 years, educated in Paris and has been in business for 20 years. She offers a 3 tier cake for 100 guests for $800.

Our couple loves Baker #2 but knows they can get "the same cake" for $450 because they plan to pick up themselves. So they tell Baker #2 this and expect a hefty price break. Here's what they don't know.

Included in Baker #2's price is the following:
Consultation to make exactly the right cake (time expense)
The finest ingredients (additional product expense)
Freshly baked (yes, some bakers make layers well in advance and freeze)
Delivery and set up (time expense plus this is a risky venture for the consumer to do)
Education (education $$$)

Included in Baker #1's price is the following:
I can do "some designs" (lack of experience)
Box mixes from Grocery Store (lack of quality, less expense)
Baked previous week (she has a day job, too)
Discount for pick-up (she's sure you can carry that big cake assembled, lack of experience)
Learned from Grandma (no formal education)

Of course Baker #1 can offer a lower price because it is a lesser product. So the couple is considering a possibly dry cake that may fall over in their own car on the way to the reception. But many couples will see this as a standard and then pressure the more experienced vendor to bring their price closer to the substandard. This is a no win situation for both the Bride and Pro. The bride feels ripped off by the higher price and being "forced" to use the less experienced vendor and the experienced vendor loses a possible client. The very time that it is most important to do things just right, the couple makes a decision that ends in possible disaster to save money because they don't know what they were turning down for that lower price. This decision gets made time and time again...with the florist, photographer, DJ, etc, etc. Make the same decisions with all your vendors and you really will have a party they'll talk about for years, and so will you.

A Thump On The Side of The Head moment: You'll make the money won't have that Wedding Day again.

The moral of the story is: Prioritize and Budget. Research your local area's prices and use prices that are fair for the quality you expect for your special day. Be flexible. Know that you get what you pay for in this business. Professionals that have been in the business for years have been for a reason. Their experiences shows it and their prices reflect it. Be reasonable in your requests. Certainly don't overbuy, but make sure you are getting what you pay for and pay a fair price for it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Little Something For You

This month's desktop image is just juicy. Please feel free to download and enjoy.
Summer's heat is a wonderful invitation to a glass of cold, fresh lemonade. These heavy, ripe pieces of fruit are the promise of what's to come.

Click on the image to download a copy of your own and freshen up your desktop!

Keep checking back for new images. Sometimes bridal, sometimes something different, but something always for you.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wedding Photo Tips - Top 10 Reasons To Hire A Professional Wedding Photographer

10. Uncle Al has a great camera but "used" to have a drinking problem.

9. Your bff was going to give you the photography and a scrapbook album but got
an offer to go to the Bahamas on Your Weekend with the man of her dreams.

8. Disposable cameras, need I say more?

7. The Disc Jockey's baby sister is a really good amateur photographer who dreams
of being a wedding photographer...someday.

6. Your friend that got that travel photo published in a "big magazine" has a
really good really good camera...can you say back-up equipment?

5. Your brother says he'll take care of taking pictures in between picking up on
your college room mate and your new husband's secretary.

4. "I thought I had a memory card in the camera!"

3. Your mom's friend has a friend, who has a friend...who doesn't want to know you
but wants your wedding in his sample portfolio.

2. That photography student thought that jeans and a "tuxedo tshirt" really would
be appropriate for your black tie dinner.

...and the number 1 reason to hire a professional photographer is (drum roll, please):

You want Beautiful photographs that document all the emotions and events in this first day of your family history captured by a dependable professional who takes the time to get to know your tastes, your style, your desires and gives you all of that and more.