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Special Events

It's the Attack of the Newbies

The reason most folk songs are so atrocious, one of my favorite funnymen once said, is that they were written by the people. Professional song-writers could do a much better job.

We may be crawling out of the recession, but for do-it-yourselfers, it's boom time.

I can't finish a drink at cocktail parties today without at least one person cheerfully announcing, “And, oh, did I tell you, I've started a blog!” Some blogs are terrific. Others … not so much. And that's because writing well is hard. It takes work, training, discipline and at least a little talent. Or as writer Gene Fowler put it, all you have to do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

But just as the rash of do-it-yourself blogs is driving professional writers nuts, special event professionals face their own crop of event wannabes.

Thanks in part to TV shows gushing about the glamorous world of weddings, a wave of would-be wedding planners is dampening business for the professionals. Often armed with little experience — other than their own weddings — the newbies are driving down prices. And in some cases, their blunders taint the reputation of the profession as a whole.

The world of corporate events isn't under an onslaught of wannabes, of course, but it has its own challenges. In this issue, we take a look at the new day for corporate events. Buffeted by skimpy budgets and the lingering specter of the “AIG effect,” corporate planners must continue to create events that inspire. And they're doing it — turn to page 15 to see how.

Caterers also have to change how they do business. At a time when even clients with money don't want to appear to have it, caterers can't expect to keep selling the same menus. And they aren't. The good old-fashioned picnic is proving to be good business; turn to page 31 for the recipe.

We're all living in the “new normal,” but true professionalism will prevail.

Janice P. Blackmon, with more than 25 years in wedding planning, tells the story of a newbie planner so ill-equipped to handle a wedding “that on several occasions she even asked the client what they should be working on next,” the Atlanta-based Blackmon says. The worried bride checked with her venue for a recommendation on a planner, and Blackmon's name came up. “I was able to come in with two weeks until the wedding, pull everything together, and create and produce the flawless wedding that the bride had been dreaming of,” she says.

As our annual “Catered Arts” issue shows, cream always rises to the top.

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