Are You Annoyed with Low-ball Price Inquiries?

home-1I’m on a few wedding industry forums and Facebook groups and these are the sorts of rants I see:

Can you believe I just received an email asking that I plan a wedding for $500!? These people are cray-cray!!!  {EMOJI}

Just received an inquiry for a Ritz-Carlton wedding and the bride wanted to spend $1000 on a wedding FILM. THE GALL!

Who in their right mind would ask a photographer to shoot 10 hours at a wedding for $400? What is wrong with people today?!

OK. Back up.

I know it’s frustrating to have someone undervalue what you do.
But how would they know otherwise?
Have they ever planned a wedding?

Think about it…
How would they know what these things cost?
Have you met with them and told them what EXACTLY goes into the service you provide?
Do you have a video on your website that shows how elaborate your process is?
Are you advertising on a website that down plays the value of wedding vendors? (A site that tells brides they can plan their own wedding? Or should expect to pay $500 for a film?)

If it is an inquiry, they haven’t even gotten to the point where they get to understand your services… so how would they know that $400 is too low for  wedding planner? (or photographer, videographer, etc.) How should they know this?

Don’t be insulted when someone simply doesn’t know something. They weren’t put in this situation to offend you.

So how do you reply to an inquiry like that?

1. Relax. It’s not about you.
2. Is there an opportunity to educate this person? If so, get on the phone for a quick chat.
If not, be respectful. There is a person behind that inquiry with a real need.
Solve a problem. If you know you can’t work with them (and don’t want to take the time to educate them), that’s fine. BUT, be a resource. Be an expert. Make a recommendation or referral for them.

EVERYTHING is an opportunity to show people your best self. Not replying (or taking insult) to low-budget inquiries is a failure in showing grace and kindness. And it’s a poor reflection on your brand.

What do you think?
What is your approach in this situation?

PS – if you KEEP getting low-ball inquiries, is your marketing strategy leading people astray? Revisit our 6-part series on “Why Do I Keep Getting Low Budget Brides?

Branding Case Study: Leslie Vega Design & Goldenberry Paper

From time to time we invite one of our Sage Branding Specialists to share some of their “before and after” design work with us.  By learning from these case studies you’ll be better able to see branding identity go through an evolution, gain strength, and come to life.

LeslieVega1I’m excited to share today’s branding case study with you! I worked with Brittany Warren, owner of Goldenberry Paper, about 2 years ago at the upstart of her business. (We did business planning together and I helped her put the bones of the business in place.) In the last year, Brittany partnered with one of our branding specialists, Leslie Vega, to put a face on her new company with some branding identity. What a beautiful representation of this stationery company! I love when stationers, who design for others each day, reach out to professionals for their own branding. (A surgeon wouldn’t operate on herself would she?!)

Here, Leslie shares her thoughts…

Before the redesign…

Brittany’s stationery work is gorgeous, so when she approached me about her brand re-design, I knew we could definitely polish up her image to match the style of her classic, southern inspired work. We knew we needed to go in a more classic, sophisticated direction with a softer presence and I was excited to make it happen for her.Print



The Company’s mission, values…

I believe branding is so much more than pretty fonts and lovely colors. So before starting the design process, we explored Brittany’s ideal client: Who she is, what her core values are and what’s important to her. Brittany’s client is the traditional bride with friendly southern roots who cares more about her guests’ experience than the current trends. She’s casual but carries herself with a sophisticated classic style.

Brittany’s design style is classic with a touch of modern but always has tradition in mind. And with this same value of tradition, she reverts to her southern roots to make sure each client is so pleased with their experience.

With these aesthetics in mind, I wanted to create a brand that reflected that casual simplicity with classic touches of tradition.


After the Redesign…

Brittany was such an ideal client. She knew what she was looking for but trusted me as her designer to run with the creative process. I was so pleased with the results of her brand. It embodies Brittany’s pretty, classic and southern style so beautifully.

GoldenberryPaper_Branding_WebDesign_LeslieVegaDesign2Brittany shares her thoughts…

My experience with Leslie was fantastic!  From the beginning, I envisioned a beautiful, crisp and clean brand for my business.  After reviewing Leslie’s work, I knew she was the perfect fit for me.  From my initial introductory email all the way to receiving the completed branding files, she was very responsive, thorough and easy to work with.  Even though we never met in person, Leslie blew me away with how well she executed my vision for this re-brand.  It’s a big decision and investment to consider hiring someone to do your branding, however, from my experience it was very much worth it!

Thanks for sharing with us, ladies!

The Importance of Your Website’s Copy

How much attention do you pay to the words on your website? The actual text in your bio and services information? Those words matter. They can make or break your business. Not only are people attracted to interesting verbiage, but also it is a reflection of your company, your culture, your brand. Does your website copy reflect your best self?

Today’s guest post comes from Astrid Mueller (designer extraordinaire at and Jessica Fox (wordsmith wizard at

The Key Ingredients to a Successful Brand!

Are you ready?

Here they are:

Unique Brand Concept


Great Visual Brand


Branded Copy & Communication

We know, we know. You totally get that a targeted, tailored, branded visual representation of your business is essential.

But what about branded copy? Why do you need that, too?  It’s just writing – unlike graphic design, anyone can do that, right?

We won’t argue with you there.

Just about everyone can write, and we’re willing to bet that many of you are fantastic with a pen when not knee-deep in weddings. But branded copy is another beast entirely. It’s not about lofty prose, killer descriptions, or perfect grammar (although that is a must).  And it’s not something that every writer (even super awesome ones) can execute well.

Copywriting is about communication. A good brand writer has a strong understanding of your brand and gets to know your business’s goals, what sets it apart, and why it’s special.  She thinks about what appeals to your customer and gets them to act. Through word choice and a little psychology, she creates horn-tooting text that speaks to your customer in a compelling, brand-unique voice.

As the first impression we have of a company, branded graphic design is a powerful thing. It gets customers to take notice, emotionally connect, and remember a brand…so you better make it count.

Without branded copy, your visual identity is like Wonder Woman without her lasso…you need it to rope ‘em in. Or, imagine if Wonder Woman spoke like Minnie Mouse. Naturally, each has her own charm, but wouldn’t we be utterly confused by her and what she stands for?  The same holds true for your brand.

We could blather on about why every step in branding needs to be powerful and consistent, but instead we’ll show you, thanks to our recent collaboration with Print Icon, a luxury printing and design boutique in New York.

Whether in-store or online, copy and marketing pieces should always be organized to help ideal customers navigate and understand the business’s offerings:

BEFORE the rebrand:

Drafts from the client for in-store posters to explain the boutique’s services:


AFTER the rebrand:


concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location


concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location

Special occasions, especially launches, are another instance where personalized text is key for professional, consistent brand presentation.


This was the text draft from Print Icon for their launch invitation:

Print Icon Gilded… New possibilities in the Art of Paper

You are cordially invited to the Grand Opening of Print Icon Gilded, a unique new store and gallery celebrating new possibilities in art, paper, and the art of paper.

Our debut gallery exhibit – Parviz Shapoor’s “Welcome to my Eyes” – introduces the art of the famed Iranian writer, poet and satirist.

I hope you will join us for wine and hors d’oeuvres at our Grand Opening reception.

February 10th at 5:00 PM.

Please RSVP to:


The edited copy, in the used VIP invitation card for members of the press:


The tagline of a brand is one of the first customer touch points and is another important opportunity to evoke emotion:

business cards

business cards

Last, but not least, when used in company communication, a branded sign-off can enhance a business’s image:

a branded company greeting for email communication

a branded company greeting for email communication

Interested in working with Astrid Mueller, brand designer extraordinaire, or Jessica Fox, copy writing queen? Visit and, and email Astrid at Astrid(at) or Jessica.R.Fox(at)…they look forward to chatting!

Branding Case Study: Doodle Dog Creative & Pretty Little Bash

From time to time we invite one of our Sage Branding Specialists to share some of their “before and after” design work with us.  By learning from these case studies you’ll be better able to see branding identity go through an evolution, gain strength, and come to life.

Nikki NuckolsThis is a super exciting brand redesign for me to share with you! Megan Papoi, owner of Pretty Little Bash, partnered with me for several months on her business strategy. One of the first challenges she came with was that of her business name at the time (A Perfect Plan by Megan). She didn’t feel that it represented where she wanted to be in her business. I agreed that it didn’t have the verve that she brings to her clients. It also wasn’t special enough. (And I’m always leery of anything being called “perfect”.) Megan came up with the brilliant brand name, Pretty Little Bash. Soon after, she partnered with one of our Branding Specialists Nikki Nuckols of Doodle Dog Creative to put her vision into visuals.

Here Nikki shares about the redesign…

Before the Redesign

The old look and site were functional. There were no major design flaws or functionality flaws but it was lacking personality and differentiation from the competition. After talking to Megan, I understood who she was and she was bold, energetic and eager to help plan some really great events, so that was constantly in the back of my mind when working on her new identity!

Old Website - A Perfect Plan by Megan


After the Redesign

I always try to make every brand that leaves our office embody the personality of the individual(s) who will be representing it in their market. To me, the Pretty Little Bash brand screams, modern, trendy, fun and memorable.

Megan shares her thoughts on the rebrand… 

“I hands down wanted to work with Nikki at Doodle Dog because she has the creative ability to really nail down what her client wants and her ability to create outside the box designs and not just give me something that is like everyone else.  I like the unpredictability that she helped me create in terms of what people might think a wedding planner’s page should look like and how we made it.  Nikki and her team are rockstars! My favorite part is definitely the colors!  Almost everyone I know uses pastels, which are pretty don’t get me wrong but that just wasn’t me.  I am absolutely loving my bright color combination!!  It gets me giddy just thinking about it.  It really shows my personality and helps people realize the type of experience they will get from me.”

Sage Wedding Pros Strategy Talk… Michelle shares…

“In working with Megan, one of the first things we did was talk about her vision for the company. “What is that you want to be known for?” We uncovered the following values that are important to Megan and Pretty Little Bash:

  • SERVICE… timely, not stressful, fun… anticipate a need before it arises (love this!)
  • FUN! …release and relax so that you can truly enjoy the event
  • CREATIVITY and ARTISTRY…. a love for details and design.

This foundation gave Megan a foundation for her branding. It’s more than just pretty colors and sparkle because it has a soul. This is such an important step in marketing for your business. We love how Nikki has interpreted our strategy work into beautiful visual identity for Megan and Pretty Little Bash!”

Want to see more? Look here for more images, including Megan’s brand reveal images:

Be Sage Conference Speakers: Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo, AaB Creates

We are thrilled to partner with a range of amazing speakers for our Be Sage Conference this August. When we sat down to set our curriculum for Be Sage, we asked ourselves: “What are the challenges that experienced business owners have in the wedding industry?” We came up with a list of questions and found the best people to speak on these topics.


23866330_headshots02bwIntroducing: Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo, Owners of AaB Creates

Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo founded AaB Creates (formerly, Always a Bridesmaid) in 2003 after cutting their teeth producing the International Clio Awards. Using niche marketing, media savvy and social media they have grown into one of the country’s most sought after Design and Planning firms for clients seeking creative, out of the box wedding experiences with understated luxury. Their global client roster is a who’s who in the worlds of finance, film, tech and fashion.

In 2010, after watching the wedding landscape shift, the ladies formed a new company called Just About Married that offered one service only- “Day-of” coordination. Together the women launched their award winning blog in 2006. Xochitl is one of the few in the wedding industry to sit on both sides of the editorial table: She is the newly minted Wedding Expert for, and has served as a contributor to and the Huffington Post. Simultaneously AaB’s “Real Weddings” and Expert Opinions have appeared in over 100 publications, both online and in print including The New York Times,, Latina Magazine and Fox News. Their TV appearances have included MTV Europe, The Style network and ET’s The Insider.

5 How To’s you’ll gain from Xochitl and Mayra:

1) How you can grow your business by reducing your service offerings.
2) How to get your name Off the Door without damaging your reputation.
3) The benefits/drawbacks of operating two distinct brands in the wedding space.
4) The benefits/drawbacks of 1099 employees.
5) Using a business partnership to tactically play to personal strengths.

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here are 6 core values that are fundamental to Xochitl & Mayra and how they do business:

1) Understand our clients’ unique needs.
2) Committing to our clients’ goals for their celebration.
3) Use our expertise in the field to elevate our client’s celebrations.

These values are distinctly unique to AaB:

1) Commit to functional design that is as comfortable as it is stunning.
2) Creating solutions where none currently exist and presenting clients with creative, relevant ideas.
3) Working with Vendors of the same commitment level and integrity as ourselves.

We hope you’ll join us this August!


Ticket sales are open for Be Sage Conference.


Here’s a little refresher if you missed our post last month about our new conference:

We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

We will continue to add conference details at:

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014
Tickets go on sale February 10th at 9am PST