Miami wedding and event planner Chris Weinberg Events is a premier luxury wedding and event planning firm with more than a decade of experience designing, planning, and managing exclusive weddings and events in Miami, South Florida, and destinations worldwide. Chris Weinberg Events assists you in thoughtfully planning, crafting, and producing your event anywhere your heart desires.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest challenges ever while planning an event was when my client hired me to make a “surprise” dinner party for 40 for her husband and he found out about it less than a week before the event. He was very upset with his wife, and with me. After finding out that he was contractually obligated to the venue and caterer, he decided to have our team produce a completely different celebration in the same venue for 12 times the number of guests.
I overcame it by having my strategic team of creative event specialists produce anything and everything that he was looking for in less than 5 days. This included providing a 50′ tall volcano that could produce both smoke and fire from the top so that he would be happy with his birthday celebration which was a huge success and included a celebrity performance by Wyclef Jean.
What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?
1. The Guest “Favor” Bar – guests, on arrival to the event, can select 1 gift from a client-curated collection of gifts. For example, if it is a wedding and there is a flamingo theme, all the gifts would relate to flamingos or pink or have flamingos on or as part of the gift.
2. The “Welcome Lounge” – for destination events, instead of a “welcome bag” for all, the Lounge is the welcome. The lounge is stocked well with essentials guests may need during their stay and guests choose, taking only what they want and/or need. This avoids unnecessary waste with unused or unwanted items.
What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?
Tip #1 – Pick 1 item of expense and do it right, such as an exciting specialty drink in a special glass.
Tip #2 – Send digital invitations instead of paper and save a significant amount of money, plus reduce your carbon footprint!
Tip #3 – Choose a DJ instead of a band. Guests will dance the night away with a great DJ for less money. You can even add a live musician, such as a saxophonist or electric violinist, to accompany the DJ and elevate the experience.
Tip #4 – Choose Sunday or Friday night, instead of Saturday night. This small decision will help greatly with the budget for the venue, catering, and all vendor costs. There is a premium for Saturday night events and a reduction (almost always) for any other day of the week.
Tip #5 – If the venue is nice, use any and all resources they have such as tables, chairs, and linens as well as sound or lighting so that you don’t have to contract separately for this at an additional cost.
If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?
Our dream client is very busy, very particular, and knows or envisions what they like. This client is high touch and has a large budget and trusts us to assemble a creative dream team of partners to produce their event down to the smallest details. The “event” will be actually several events (3-7) taking place over multiple days in a destination location. The event(s) will be curated so that the guest experience elevates over the course of multiple days and events.
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Our vendors or strategic partners are vital to us producing successful events for our clients. Cultivating and maintaining these relationships is of high priority for us. We successfully do this by consistently working with our vendors. By communicating and meeting with them, even when we are not collaborating on an event, and by taking the time to get to know each other’s businesses and brands so that we can elevate each other. We mention and tag our partners on our social media channels and we “gift” them with company-branded items such as luxury notebooks, pens, cardholders, and other token luxury gifts to make sure we are always in their thoughts.
What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?
I would advise anyone planning a fundraiser to start by clearly defining what their fundraising goals and objectives are. They should make sure they have internal staff to help populate and execute the event. They should create a working budget and make sure the math works for how many people need to attend, the ticket prices, and the event costs to determine feasibility to meet their goals before they announce the event and start planning it.
If the event is for a non-profit organization, the planner and the non-profit should assemble a small committee of volunteers to help produce the event as well as a large “host committee” who agree to help populate it by attending themselves and getting others to attend. Also, I would strongly suggest the planner create a comprehensive To-Do List with dates for completion and who will be responsible for each task. Lastly, the planner should determine all staffing needs and who will fulfill each role, whether volunteer or paid staff.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
I recently scaled my business for growth, going from 1 employee (me) with part-time staff to 3 employees with additional part-time staff. This allows me to work more “on” my business rather than only “in” the business. I was able to train my team to do 75% of the work I used to do and now I have more time, a requirement for today’s successful small business owner, to network, attend educational conferences, strategize our branding and social media, and more. I also have more time to spend personally with family and friends. This change has helped my business to grow and we are now attracting prospective clients from Google, Instagram, and more.
Additionally, I have begun to speak publicly to other event professionals about Event Planning, monetizing my many years of experience and having media and professional outlets label me as an “expert”. I am excited at how many doors are opening as a result of these changes.
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea of setting up and starting to attract a client base?
I was inspired initially as I became my own boss and set my own work hours by starting a home-based event planning business while raising 3 young children. I had many years of business and work experience and was able to parlay my skill set into the event industry as I already had some work experience in this field. I was able to set up the business in a relatively short period of time and began to attract clients for my friend group as well as the community by word of mouth. This was in 2003 before social media and websites were necessary. In fact, the internet was just getting started and helped me to source vendors and educational information to start the business right.
What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?
When I was 21 years old, I planned a former company’s booth at the Miami International Boat Show, the largest boat show in the world. I worked for a local Miami Bayliner boat dealership that set up the Bayliner booth, which was the largest indoor booth space in the show. It also sold the most number of boats of any booth (think Toyota or Hyundai of boats). It was a 10-day show with 3-5 days of load in and load out on each side. This was a tremendous responsibility and I remember how proud (and exhausted) I was at the end!
What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?
1. I wish I knew that I was a business owner and ran the business as a business from day 1. I considered myself to be an event planner/producer who owned my own business. I feel the first 10 years were great but shifting my mindset and acknowledging that I am a business owner several years ago has helped me to grow my business tremendously.
2. I wish that I had written processes and systems in place from day 1. Creating a business handbook and establishing a clear pricing system has helped me to become a better salesperson and spokesperson for my company.