Expert Insights with Debbie Geller @gellerevents

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Name: Debbie Geller
Company Name: Geller Events, Inc.
Years in Industry: 21
Location: West Los Angeles
Twitter: @GellerEvents
Instagram: @GellerEvents

How did you get started in the wedding industry?
I entered the wedding industry entirely by chance. I was working in commercial real estate and decided that I wanted to pursue something more creative. After leaving my job and planning a hiatus, an acquaintance in the wedding industry called me to assist with a calligraphy job. After that was completed, I was asked to create renderings for an event. A few more requests, and I ended up at her office for 3.5 years.

How has the industry changed since you started?
In the early 90’s there were very few industry associations and even fewer educational opportunities for planners. Today there are conferences to hone your skills and even coursework at universities covering the subject. Currently 1 in 5 couples hire a wedding planner -- and in the luxury market, it is expected. When I began in the business, many couples weren’t even aware than planners existed. Movies like “Father of the Bride” and “The Wedding Planner” brought the existence of and need for planners to the mainstream. A new trend is that a multitude of locations now require that you hire a planner when booking with them. The industry as a whole has gained legitimacy over the last 20 years.

The internet has launched weddings into a world where you have access to all of the information you want, and where you are bombarded with what celebrities are doing for their big day, which increases the boundaries of our clients’ dreams. The complexity of weddings has increased over time, and with it the skill set of competent planners.

What was the biggest lesson you learned early on in your business?
Interview your clients at the same time they are interviewing you. Not every couple is right for the services you provide and the manner in which you work, and although the compensation is tempting, a mismatch can be an unpleasant experience for all parties.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned in the past few years?
Something that I learned early on, but that is reinforced every year and every event is that putting together something extraordinary is a team effort. It’s critical to treat our event partners as essential members of the team and that you allow them the freedom and latitude to expand the ideas on the table. That kind of collaboration elevates the project as a whole.

What one piece of advice would you give to another entrepreneur on sticking it out in a competitive industry?
Keep your overhead low and the level of your product high. This seems like common sense, but sometimes people believe that they need to live the lifestyle of their clients in order to be taken seriously. We operate in a cyclical world and being able to ride out the lows is crucial.

Expert Insights is a series of conversations with wedding professionals who have been in the industry for ten years or longer. 
Think Splendid will be offering insights and perspectives from Splendid Guests for the months of February and March while I am working in Africa

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