Thursday, February 18, 2010

Planning a Wedding: How One Man Is Doing It

Everyone tells you that planning a wedding is a lot of work and can almost become a second job. As I was growing up I heard this and kind of shrugged it off. Ever since I was a little boy, I knew that I wanted to get married someday; commitment-phobic I am not. But, I always assumed that the woman I would marry would plan the wedding. Actually, I thought that she would have the wedding already planed, long before we even met.

So I guess it only makes sense that my fiancé grew up not wanting to get married at all. There was nothing planned or thought out, no dress that she wanted to get married in or song she wanted to dance to. She was actually kind of anti-marriage.

Now we’re getting married this fall and it seems that the lion’s share of the planning is falling (no pun intended) to me. To be fair she is definitely helping out and is more than willing to give her opinion on anything put before her, but I am the driving force behind our committee of two.

So, what do we have so far? I don’t think that we are doing too badly. We have a venue, my mom and step-dads patio in central Virginia; we have a guest list; we have a “theme”, harvest time with an extremely casual dress code (shorts and tee shirts will be allowed). What we have the most of, though, is ideas. We want letterpress invitations (our colors are those of the fall) and we will probably want a tree incorporated into them somehow. We want a string quartet for the ceremony, but do we want a live band or a DJ for the reception? I don’t know and neither does she. We want a buffet style meal, but what kind of food?

I know that it will all come together in the end - my fiancé works best with a tight deadline - but for now, having this hanging over our head is stressful. I would definitely welcome any ideas, advice or cool harvest-type options. I know that I will have the opportunity to view a huge selection at the National Stationery Show, but let me know if you have any.

Oh, I guess we do have one more thing, just last night we ordered our “Save The Date” magnet. Here it is:

- Aaron

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Blur

I’m taking advantage of the “work at home” day to write this blog – on Wednesday, instead of Thursday. The snowstorm that is keeping me at home in my pjs and sipping my home-brewed coffee gives me a visual analogy of what January was for me - one BIG BLUR!

Only one week after New Year’s Day, I was on the road visiting with vendors and reps who were hard at work at other trade shows. My “road work” didn’t really end until last week – Thursday, February 4th, to be exact! Whew.

This first “show season” of the year was truly exhilarating. Buyers were out in full force – evidenced by the over-stocked coat check areas in all venues. Speaking as a show management person, this is a great sign of a robust show in a cold climate!

These buyers who crowded the showrooms, escalators, elevators, hallways and aisles weren’t just looking at “what’s new,” they were placing orders! The reps and vendors I spoke with were reporting that their sales were up over the same time as last year, and often in a double digit percentage increase. This portends the end of a bad economy, I’m thinking. Hurray for that!

A number of companies I met with will be exhibiting in the National Stationery Show for the first time this year. In Atlanta I got to spend a nice amount of time with Jennifer Carroll of Jennifer Carroll Designs. Jennifer is already very accomplished – she’s a sought-after event designer with a new book on events in the works, and now she’s designing fabulous stationery. I can’t wait for you to meet her at the NSS!

While in Atlanta, I attended the Greeting Card Association’s reception – that was a great event. There, I got to speak with Bob and Melinda Blanchard from Live What You Love (don’t know them? Check ‘em out before the Show – they have authored a few inspiring non-fiction books, including “Live What You Love” and that’s not all they’ve done.) You’ll love their story and seeing their line at the Show this May. I also got to wave hello to Alan Friedman and Lisa Samar of Great Arrow Graphics. Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend much time with them, but I’m lucky enough to see them a few times each year. I think you know that Great Arrow will be back at the NSS this May!

In Dallas, I was glad for the opportunity to meet Sarah-Allen Preston, of Preston Paper – many thanks to rep Tosha Pearson of Erik Hahn & Associates for putting us together. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time. Isn’t that what trade shows are all about, after all? (Same place, same time). When we met, Sarah-Allen had already signed on for the National Stationery Show, but it was great to meet her (and her mom) in person. She had lots of questions about exhibiting, marketing opportunities, retailers, etc. I was happy we had a chance to scratch the surface on these broad topics and a few specifics. Sarah-Allen told me that she is planning on “attending” our exhibitor webinars offered to NSS exhibitors (and of special interest to exhibitors new to the industry, or new to the show). These webinars start tomorrow (Friday the 12th). Click here to learn more.

In New York, I bumped into (same place, same time) several key reps in the stationery industry who were walking the aisles. Each one of them had a few companies they told me wanted to exhibit in the May NSS. Many thanks to you all, Dan, Kris, and Mario to name a few. I’m in touch with all you suggested.

I also had dinner with a few NSS buyers - each a member of our Delegates program. I was honored to be asked to join the group. They are from disparate parts of the country, and traditionally get together at least once during a show to compare notes about what new things they’ve seen at the show, and what they’ve already ordered. I loved watching them pull brochures, catalogs and sell sheets out of their bags to share information with each other. These ladies also gave me the 4-1-1 on their current top-selling lines, as well as companies they want to see in the National Stationery Show this May. This kind of collaboration with buyers such as Hannah, Edie, Shara and Jean (bet you know them all) and the reps is part of how we work to ensure that the NSS delivers for you – vendors and buyers alike!

Our show floor is filling up fast, and we’re excited for a great NSS to come. Buyers, please make sure you walk every aisle – there are new resources to be found on each one, and many vendors you know have taken new locations. Make sure you register to attend on our website. One buyer emailed me today asking if she could bring an employee with her – the answer is a resounding YES! You don’t have to go it alone – just register your employee online when you click through to get your badge.

Those of you considering exhibiting – now is really the time to jump in and claim your space so that you can get your great line in front of the passionate, dedicated buyers who will be at the Show in full force this May! Drop me a line or apply online.

Until next time -

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine’s Day - To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. I believed in them all as a child, until that dark day when my older brother ruined the magic for me.

However, Cupid was not one I ever believed in. Not because I never fell in love or thought that boys were “icky” growing up – more so because I found it silly that people had to set aside one day each year to remember to express love to their sweetheart. Should that not happen every day?

So Valentine’s Day comes and goes each year with my husband and me paying little or no attention. He considers this one of my greatest attributes. So it should have come as no surprise the other night, when I said “So about Valentine’s Day…,” that my husband looked up with a scared expression, as if the month of February as he knew it was crumbling down around him. “Maybe we should recognize the day as a way of teaching Brianna about love,” I continued. His response was typical…and correct. “You are just looking for an excuse to buy her a present.” He knows me too well, as I already had this card and gift picked out for our precious 1-year-old little girl.

Pink with red glitter hearts, the Giraffe card by Papyrus will make her smile. The giraffe is her favorite animal (for the moment, at least).

A lover of chocolate already, “Lilly’s Chocolate Heart” from HarperCollins/GreenWillow Books is sure to be her new favorite book.

And for my husband? Well, he will continue to receive the gift of not worrying about Valentine’s Day. Although he will ask – as he does every year – “Am I going to be in trouble the day after Valentine’s Day?”