Events by Divine Creations | August 2008
Events by Divine Creations

Oh No... Here Comes A Hurricane

by Valerie DiVecchio 31. August 2008 10:52
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Let's face it, we live in paradise here in Florida, but along with the reward comes some risk.  We Floridians know that as hurricane season.  TS Fay decided to visit us recently... three times.  And now Gustav is heading up the Gulf and Hanna is hanging out in the Caribbean waiting to make her move.  So does that mean you shouldn't have a special event planned anytime from June to November?  Not necessarily, but event insurance is something you should definitely consider.

Event insurance comes in many different levels of coverage.  There is event cancellation or postponement that covers deposits and payments made if the event cannot take place or if you must postpone and the vendors you selected are booked on the date you rescheduled it for already.  There is also general liability insurance which some venues require you to have if you hold your event in their facility.  Art museums are a good example that require insurance.

Some individuals are able to get event insurance through their homeowners insurance company so that's a great first place to start.  There are also other companies who specialize in this type of coverage like www.firemansfund.com; www.onedayevent.com; www.eventinsure.com; www.privateeventinsurance.com; and www.wedsafe.com.

Asking the Right Questions

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. August 2008 21:33
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In my opinion, hiring the best vendors who are professional, reputable and top notch in their industry is one of the easiest ways to ensure a successful event.  As an event planner, I do my best to match up my clients with the vendor who will best fit their personality, style and budget. 

With weddings I offer several levels of involvement, one of which is the day-of wedding coordination package.  This works well for couples who want to plan their own wedding, but don't want to stress on their big day.  With a day-of coordination client, I generally start getting into the action about 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding day.  When we meet, the client already has secured their own vendors and has contracts for the services they require.  Sometimes I am unfamiliar with the vendors they have selected, but I am fine with that; there are many talented professionals in the Tampa Bay area and I enjoy meeting them and broadening my network for future clients.

Unfortunately there are also individuals that say they are professionals, but when asked the right questions, you find out that is not really the case.  Recently I had a day-of client have the unfortunate experience of her photographer backing out... two weeks before the wedding.  He referred them to a friend of his who was also a professional (and I use that term loosely) photographer.  The bride had concerns, but since she lives out of state, felt like there were not many options.  She called me and asked for some advice.  I could hear the hesitation in her voice, but trying not to alarm her any more than she was, I offered to call the new photographer since I had never worked with him before and ask some follow up questions.

When I spoke with the photographer I asked a few very simple questions:  1) How long have you been doing this professionally; 2) is this your full-time profession; 3) do you have a business license with the city/ county; 4) do you carry insurance; and 5) how many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer - not someone's assistant.  His answers went something like this: 1) One year; 2) No, I have a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job; 3) I'm registered with the State of Florida - not what I asked, and then I found out he didn't know that he needed a license; 4) No insurance; and 5) Maybe a dozen or so.  As a professional, red flags were waving brightly in my face.  I called my client back and let her know the questions that I asked, the reason I asked those questions and his answers. 

Question #1 is obvious - hands-on experience is what makes a professional a true professional.  We all have to start out somewhere, but if you think you know it all, and can do it all, after one year in business, there's a problem.  I've been doing this 12 years and I learn new things all the time.  You can learn only so much through books, experience is what will take you to the next level.  Question #2 - if you can't support yourself with doing what you love as a profession, it's a hobby.  Unless you can dedicate yourself to improving your skills, learning new things and polishing technique 100% of the time, you just can't be all that you can be.  Question #3 - basically, if you don't have a license you're operating your business illegally.  Question #4 - all vendors should carry general liability insurance at a minimum.  Additionally, professional liability and workers compensation insurance are also a very good idea.  What if your photographer leaves his equipment where someone can trip over it?  If he/she doesn't have insurance that person who fell can sue you.  What if the photographer stood on a chair to take a picture and he/she fell?  That's right, your photographer could sue you.  And what if the photographer didn't take proper care of his/ her equipment and it is faulty?  That means not only do you not get your pictures, but also if you sue them, with no insurance, you won't get any compensation either.  Insurance is expensive for vendors to carry, but it's also what separates the professionals from the rookies.  And lastly question #5 - You can't recreate your wedding day and pictures are one of the only ways you can capture those moments and preserve them.  If the person who is responsible for capturing these memories isn't as qualified as they portray themselves being, you are going to be highly disappointed in your photos and that, unfortunately, will be the lasting impression of your wedding day.

I told my client that it was 100% her and her fiance's decision, but if she wasn't sure that she wanted to use this photographer, I would help her find another.  She spoke with her fiance and they decided to go with someone else.  I truly believe that in hindsight they will thank their original photographer for doing them a favor by backing out. 

When hiring vendors without the advice of an event planner, please be sure to do your research.  Ask the right questions, and don't settle for anything less than the best.  There are great, high quality vendors in every budget range out there... don't give up until you find the right one for you. 

It's Been A While...

by Valerie DiVecchio 17. August 2008 18:36
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So I bet some of you thought my blogging was short lived... not the case!  My husband, Joe, and I took some much deserved R & R and slipped away on a 3 week vacation.  Summer is typically a slower time of year for tIMG_0635he event industry, but each year is different so you better make plans in advance or you won't be able to get away... which was my mistake last year!  But I have to say we made up for it in 2008.

We ventured up to Seattle for a few days and then on to Vancouver for a few more.  And then we boarded a seven day Holland America cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.  And then the fun really began... another whole week in the Alaskan wilderness.  Okay, truth be told, we didn't rough it like in the movie "Into the Wild", but those of you who saw the movie and knows what happened in the end, well we opted for B & Bs and hotels instead!  On the cruise we stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau (my favorite port by far) and Skagway, as well as cruised the Glacier Bay.  The scenery is amazing and the wildlife is incredible.  We took a float plane ride of death... I say that because it was raining and windy and I did a lot of serious praying...  We hiked Mendenhall Glacier which was breathtaking.  We also took a jet boat tour in Haines where our driver got us stuck in a sandbar, but the two bald eagles right above us (and probably laughing at us) IMG_1210and the black bear sighting made it well worth it.

Once we got off the ship in Seward the true adventure began.  We stayed in Seward for a couple of days where we got to feed the puffins at the Alaska SeaLife Center.  That was so cool (and really smelly).  We walked alongIMG_1013 the water's edge to watch the sea otters playing and eating.  But probably the best part of the trip in my opinion was the catamaran ride to Kenai Fjords.  Talk about jaw dropping memories.  We saw killer whales playing with porpoises, a breaching humpback whale, seals, sea lions, mountain goats, lavender and orange starfish, and our boat got about 150 feet from a caving glacier.  Some moments I would just stand there with my jaw hanging open and totally forgot that I should be taking pictures!  It was wildlife at its fineness. 

Then we rented a car and took off for Denali National Park and Preserve.  The tour in the old, rickety school bus through Denali rivaled the boat to Kenai Fjords.  We were nearing the end of our vacation and I had yet to see a grizzly bear.  Every time we heard about a sighting we were off and running towards it.  I know, most pIMG_1635eople would do the opposite, but it was number one on my list of things to see.  We always seemed to be just a little too late.  Well, this time, SCORE!  Not one, not two, but six grizzlies... including two cubs!  And we saw a grizzly chasing a wolf pup (I know, I was cringing too!), then all of a sudden the grizzly stopped dead in its tracks and started running the other way... Mama wolf came to save the day!!  She was hot on that grizzly's tail!  It was truly a National Geographic moment.  We also saw moose (and baby calves), dall sheep, caribou, and lots of other critters that I can't remember their official names.  Totally worth sitting in a school bus for 8 hours!

So now, back to reality and real life.  It's always fun to get away, but it's also nice to come back home.  Now I am totally energized and rested and ready to tackle the work at hand... planning perfect events!! 

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Valerie DiVecchio Valerie DiVecchio

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Divine Creations

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