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The Small Business Guide to Sustainability Certifications

The Small Business Guide to Sustainability Certifications
By Carlyann Edwards,

Today, companies face pressure to expand their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. SolarCity’s sustainability briefing found that 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if the company is making an effort to be sustainable, while 82 percent are more likely to purchase a product that represents CSR over one that does not.

How can businesses effectively market their environmental responsibility while avoiding the pitfalls of greenwashing?

Many companies have turned to accredited CSR certifications and awards. Sustainability certifications are voluntary norms and standards relating to environmental, social, ethical and food safety issues.

“These certifications help consumers and stakeholders understand that the company has gone through a third-party verification process to make sure the company is actually walking the walk regarding sustainability,” Josh Prigge CEO of Sustridge said.

With sustainability reporting on the rise and a lot at stake for companies, there are several certifications businesses can choose from. Choosing the best one can be difficult, but here are some of the more popular ones to make your decision a bit easier.
B Corp

B Lab certification requires companies to pass an online assessment for “social and environmental performance,” integrate B Lab commitments into company governing documents, and pay an annual fee ranging from $50 to $50,000. “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk,” its website reads. Today, there are more than 2,564 Certified B corporations from 50 countries and more than 130 industries.

“We chose this certification because we feel it is the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable business,” CEO of Vert Asset Management Samuel Adams said. “For small businesses like ours, it is not hard or costly to get.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an ecology-oriented building certification program run by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is currently the most widely used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all buildings. According to the company’s website, LEED buildings attract more tenants, cost less to operate, and boost employee productivity and retention. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several categories, including energy use and air quality. Depending on the number of points achieved, a project will either earn a Silver, Gold or Platinum rating.

The TRUE Zero Waste certification system recognizes those businesses that are working toward achieving zero waste, cutting their carbon footprint and supporting public health. Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), certification is available for any facility and its operations.

To be certified, companies (or projects) must have a zero waste policy in place, and they must have achieved an average of 90 percent or higher in diverting non-hazardous waste from landfills, incineration and the environment for the past year. A detailed list of requirements can be found here. Businesses pay a fee between $1,200 and $1,500 and a certification fee based on the square footage of your facility.

Developed through a collaborative effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden, SITES (used by architects, landscapers, ecologists, etc.) provides performance measures rather than prescribing practices, supporting the unique environmental conditions of each landscape it certifies.

SITE-certified landscapes consume less water, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, and improve air quality. The combined registration and certification introductory fee ranges from $8,000 to $9,500.

“My decision to earn a SITES credential reflects not only my commitment to the highest environmental standards but my commitment to provide consumers and the green building industry with the same shortcut for understanding the impact of landscapes that LEED provides for indoor environments,” said Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping.

The Green Business Bureau’s (GBB) certification process is entirely initiative-based, so your company will receive points for each activity it completes. GBB’s sustainability assessment identifies and communicates sustainability efforts that your small business has already completed, while also helping to guide and formulate future efforts. GBB certification differentiates itself from other organizations by making it easy for small businesses to customize their sustainability practices.

Member companies choose and prioritize different green initiatives. After completing each initiative, companies are encouraged to promote their accomplishments and continue their progress by focusing on new initiatives. GBB specifically targets small and medium-sized businesses. The cost of the program is dependent on the size of your business, with annual costs ranging from $375 to $875.
Choosing a certification

If these five certifications don’t provide exactly what you’re looking for, don’t fret. There are thousands of sustainability awards available. Victoria Kate Burrows, project manager of Advancing Net Zero for the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) said the organization doesn’t prefer any one certification due to a multitude of varying local conditions.

The WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment challenges businesses around the world to set ambitious targets to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their facilities. Because of the complexity involved with metrics and various certifications, the WorldGBC has developed a few core principles to increase recognition among the various certification organizations.

“Even if you’re developing a very specific tool to your market, you need to ensure that … key principles are met and that helps achieve alignment and commonality across a huge universe of certification schemes that are out there,” Burrows said.

The same approach can be taken when choosing which sustainability certification makes the most sense for your business. Identify what certifications and measurements your competitors are using, find out what your customers prioritize, and look for a suitable certification.

Certification is an investment. David Veca, a family manager at Veckridge Chemical, stated, “The certificates that are worth paying for are ones that align with your business’s values, and, importantly, your target customer’s values,” he said.

Focus on ‘Family’ Is Key to Long-Term Family Business Success

Focus on ‘Family’ Is Key to Long-Term Family Business Success
By Nicole Fallon,

According to Family Enterprise USA, 5.5 million family-owned businesses operate in the United States. What’s the secret to their success? It just might be the “family” aspect that makes these organizations thrive.

“The business world knows that if you take care of the customer, the bottom line will take care of itself,” said Paul Gentilini, owner and dealer principle of third-generation car dealership Gentilini Motors. “Family-run businesses take it a step further — if you take care of your employees and treat them like family, they will take care of your customers and treat them like family. The business will thrive with loyal patrons and employees, and continue to grow and be profitable even during tough times.”

What truly drives many family businesses is the sense of connection and identity the owners and their family members feel with the business, said entrepreneur Allen Fishman, founder and executive chairman of business coaching services provider The Alternative Board (TAB).

“In family businesses, [the founder and employees have] an incredible passion for the business, and a focus and energy that you’ll never find in a non-family employee,” said Fishman, who is also the author of “9 Elements of Family Business Success” (McGraw-Hill, 2009). “They’re so focused on the business’ success that it’s part of their identity. [The business] isn’t the life of non-family employees. In general, they won’t identify themselves with the business being part of who they are the way family members do.”

Gentilini said that non-family businesses can learn a valuable lesson from this “family business” attitude.

“The core values of a family-run business are based on the core values of family life — every member of a family is there for the other members in their time of need, no matter how big or small that need is,” Gentilini told Business News Daily. “A non-family business can benefit from applying family values to their operations by creating a culture that has people wanting to work harder for them because they feel like family, not a number.”

“[A family business attitude] makes all employees feel like part of the business,” added Don Gentilini, Paul’s uncle and previous owner of Gentilini Motors. “We watch out for each other and make sure all customers are treated the same every day, every time, by everyone — like family. My dad expected more from our family than our employees because we had to lead by example and being more than just an employee working a job. Family is expected to do more and be better. That behavior flows into all employees and helps us meet our daily goals.”

Despite the strong company culture typically found in family businesses, not all of them succeed: The Family Business Alliance found that just 30 percent of family-owned businesses are passed down to the next generation, and only 12 percent remain viable into the third generation. A recent TAB survey found that lack of succession planning is one common reason that family businesses fail to stay within the family.

“Twenty-nine percent of business owners do not have a succession plan,” said David Scarola, vice president of TAB. “Without one, it’s easy to understand how owners of family businesses can lose the legacy they’ve worked so hard to build.”

Family business succession also faces the issue of a lack of training. Although 45 percent of owners say their children are involved in their business, 62 percent say it’s unlikely their business will remain family owned when they sell or retire.

A lack of confidence in leadership abilities could account for this gap, said Scarola, who noted that training family members early and thoroughly can go a long way in building that necessary confidence.

The perceived special treatment of related employees and the mixing of family and work issues can also cause points of contention in a family business setting, Fishman said. To ensure the success of any family members hired, he advised family business owners to operate with a certain level of objectivity.

“If you bring a family member into the business, get them to work outside the company first,” Fishman said. “Make him or her learn how to take direction from others, so the family dynamic is neutralized. If spouses work together, make sure your roles are separate. Don’t discuss family matters at work or work matters at home.”

Originally published on Business News Daily.

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today

5 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today
By Sammi Caramela,

Work is an expected societal norm: Go to school, get a job. But your career doesn’t have to be so strict and restraining. Work isn’t just a way to make money; it should serve you both financially and emotionally.

“Success, in my opinion, is about living a life through making choices that guide toward your goals to be your best,” said Dr. Michael Tischler, founder and CEO of Teeth Tomorrow. “The real key is to create goals that you are passionate about with respect to health/appearance, career and relationships.”

While work might be demanding at times, it should never become a priority over your wellbeing. You need time and energy for your hobbies and interests, for your family and loved ones. Don’t spend eight hours a day working just to come home and neglect the things that keep your spirits high and passion fresh. Here are five ways to improve your work-life balance.
1. Know that there is no ‘perfect’ balance.

When you hear “work-life balance,” you probably imagine waking up easily at 5 a.m., hitting the gym, grabbing your meal-prepped lunch and heading off to work, just to come home early, cook dinner, do some chores, and wind down with a nice book in bed by 9 p.m. But that’s often not the case.

Don’t strive for the perfect schedule; strive for a realistic one. Some days, you might focus more on work, while others you might have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or relax on the couch with your loved ones. Balance is achieved over time, not each day.

“It is important to remain fluid and constantly assess where you are [versus] your goals and priorities,” said Heather Monahan, founder of #BossinHeels, a career mentoring group. “At times your children may need you, and other times you may need to travel for work; but allowing yourself to remain open to redirecting and assessing your needs on any day is key in finding balance.”
2. Prioritize your health.

Your overall health should be your main concern. If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression and think therapy would benefit you, fit those sessions into your schedule, even if you have to leave work early or ditch your evening spin class. If you’re battling a chronic illness, don’t be afraid to call in on rough days. You’ll only prevent yourself from getting better, possibly causing you to take more days off in the future.

“Prioritizing your health first and foremost will make you a better employee and person,” said Monahan. “You will miss less work, and when you are there, you will be happier and more productive.”

According to Tischler, this can be as simple as daily meditation and exercise with respect to your occupation.
3. Make sure you like your job.

If you hate what you do, you aren’t going to be happy, plain and simple. You don’t need to love every aspect of your job, but it needs to be exciting enough that you don’t dread getting out of bed every single morning.

Monahan recommended choosing a job that you’re so passionate about you’d do it for free.

“If your job is draining you and you are finding it difficult to do the things you love outside of work, something is wrong,” she said. “You may be working in a toxic environment, for a toxic person, or doing a job that you truly don’t love. If this is the case, it is time to find a new job.”
4. Don’t be afraid to unplug.

We live in a connected world that never sleeps. Cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows us to recover from weekly stress and gives us space for other thoughts and ideas emerge, said Jackie Stone, CMO of personal cloud storage company MiMedia.

“When you are always on, you don’t allow other things to surface that might be more important,” she added. “I meditate each morning for 10 minutes, which provides me with a great start to my day.”

Sometimes, truly unplugging means taking a vacation and shutting work completely off for a while.

“A vacation could be a 15-minute walk around the block without looking at your phone, or a vacation could be two or three weeks traveling with family/friends,” Stone said. “It’s important to take a step back to physically and mentally recharge. If you are surrounded by good people at work, a vacation should be easy to take.”

Monahan added that, when she used to travel with her boss for work, she’d look over to find him reading a novel while she would be doing something work-related.

“I didn’t understand at the time that he was giving himself a break and decompressing while I was leading myself to a potential burnout,” she said. Now, Monahan practices the same tactics. Taking that time to unwind is critical to success and will help you feel more energized when you’re on the clock.
5. Make time for yourself.

While your job is important, it shouldn’t be your entire life. You were an individual before taking this position, and you should prioritize the activities or hobbies that made you happy.

“Whether you take a walk in the park, get a massage or [take] a hot bath, it’s important to always set aside an hour a week to do something for yourself,” said Mark Feldman, vice president of marketing at Stynt.

Additionally, you should focus on surrounding yourself with loved ones rather than making excuses to be alone all week. Just because work keeps you busy doesn’t mean that you should neglect personal relationships.

“Realize that no one at your company is going to love you or appreciate you the way your loved ones do,” said Monahan. “Also [remember] that everyone is replaceable at work, and no matter how important you think your job is, the company will not miss a beat tomorrow if you are gone.”

Don’t take your loved ones for granted just because you know they’ll always be there for you. If anything, that’s more of a reason to make more time for them.

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

How to Tactfully Say No When You’re Asked to Work for Free

How to Tactfully Say No When You’re Asked to Work for Free
By Sammi Caramela,

If you’re an expert or have a specific interest in something, you’ve likely been asked to help others in that particular area. For instance, if you’re talented at graphic design, you might help a friend create images for their personal website; or if you’re a hiring manager, you might edit your cousin’s resume.

There’s nothing wrong with lending a hand, especially if you find joy in doing so – but beware of those who take advantage of your expertise. If you find yourself stressed with requests and bending over backward for people with no reward, then you need to learn how to say no. Here’s how to tactfully turn down working for free.
Give discounts

Instead of offering your services for no price, lower your typical rates by a certain percentage (e.g. 50-percent off for family members.) This will show your loved one that they’re special to you, but that work is work – and you can’t afford to do it for free.

“Think about what you can charge them while still feeling like you and your work are being valued,” said Caitlin Drago, ICF-credentialed life coach. “Look at the number and imagine you’re in the middle of working on the project. Are you feeling resentful or happy to be doing the work for them? No one wants to resent their friends and family.”

If you are going to offer discounts, however, make it clear that they aren’t for everyone, and they shouldn’t be openly discussed with others.

“If you aren’t explicit about your family member sharing the ‘deal’ you gave them, word may get out,” said Drago. “The last thing you want is for your work to be devalued.”
Make a deal

Money isn’t everything. There are plenty of other ways that you can be compensated for your work, like free advertisement or tasteful reviews. Maybe the person you’re helping can help you, too. Do they have an area of expertise in which you’re lacking?

Perhaps you’re a writer, and they’re a therapist; you can edit a blog post for their professional website, and they can act as a source for an article you’re writing on mental health. There are many valuable arrangements you can make if you think outside the box and are willing to ask for it.

“There may be times that it is okay to work for ‘free’ where you aren’t getting monetary compensation, but you are receiving something back in return,” said Drago. “Make sure that it is exposure that will actually be helpful for you.”

In article on Inc., Amy Morin writes that there are only four times you should work for free: when you earn exposure, when you expand on your real-life experience, when you gain a valuable addition to your resume, and when it’s for a cause that you believe in. If your deal does not involve any of these reasons, don’t agree to it.
Be honest

If you feel uncomfortable or strained, tell your loved one. Don’t do whatever it takes to please them, especially if it’s at your expense. Be your own mentor, and think about what will best serve you in the end.

For instance, nonpaying clients should provide the tools and resources you need to do your job so you don’t have to waste your own, such as art supplies or specific software. You should never put money into a job if you aren’t earning any back.

“You … want to be sure that the scope is well-defined and you feel good about the exchange,” said Drago. “It may feel formal – especially with a family member – but clear boundaries will ensure that no one is taken advantage of, whether on purpose or not, so that your relationship is not negatively impacted.”

If you can swing “pro bono” work from time to time, that’s great – but don’t make it a habit, and don’t let anyone abuse your kindness.

A Wedding On A Budget. Ways To Save Money..

A Wedding On A Budget. Ways To Save Money..
Author : Wedding Photography Select

Think of your wedding as a considered financial commitment. First up, make a list of everything that will need paying for. Have conversations with family members who have kindly offered to contribute towards paying the costs of your wedding.

Build in a contingency cost of 5-10% of your total budget. This is your ‘buffer’ amount that will pay for extras, like hire item delivery costs.

Do your supplier research. Compare and contrast thoroughly. Draw up a spreadsheet and review if you can undertake any elements of planning as DIY projects.

Decide on your priorities. Choose three key areas to spend money on and be incredibly strict with the other categories.

Save on wedding invitations and direct your guests to a wedding website which gives them all the details of your nuptials. It saves precious pounds and is a ‘green’ option too.

Remember: multi purpose design features save hard earned money if budgets are tight. To save on the cost of flowers, combine decorative table centerpieces with dessert options. Forget the sugared almonds in ornate china teacups designed by Fortnum and Mason; choose simple wedding favours such as single apples adorned with luggage tags, which also serve as individual place settings.
Make one element luxurious to transform a whole look. An ornate charger plate or coloured glass at each place setting can lift the whole look of your table designs.

Dress your wedding cake table with the wedding party’s bouquets as your reception begins.
As an alternative to expensive luxury floral displays, focus on keeping them minimal and enhance your marriage venue with candles. Order rose petals to complement them; they are often very inexpensive.

Never underestimate the effect of lighting in your wedding design. It can totally transform a venue at a cost that’s quite competitive compared to using the services of other wedding suppliers.

Florals in Focus: How to do it the DIY way:
Buy in Season. Avoid paying a premium for imported blooms.

Fake it. The emphasis here is not on silk. If you’re going for obvious fakery as a statement design piece (that can look completely amazing) Paper florals are the answer. Paper garlands are also massively in trend and contribute to beautiful wedding designs at incredibly affordable prices.

plan a wedding on budget

Use big blooms like hydrangeas. They look bulky and luxurious but are quite inexpensive!

Get creative with ‘props’ to bulk up your selections, lemons and limes, pine cones etc.

Use scented flowers wisely in your wedding designs, especially around food, it can get too much.

If you are decorating your wedding cake with flowers, make sure that you have told your florist; some types are particularly unsuitable to be used in food presentation.

Aside from the arranging, if you’re buying your flowers direct, know how to look after them! First up, refer to the Plants and Flowers Association for exceedingly useful advice.

Some general tips:
1. Always transport in water
2. Transport at a temperature of 2-5 degrees C, with the exception of Orchids and Anthurium which must be transported at a minimum of 15 degrees C.
3. Do not transport flowers together with vegetables or fruit. Ethylene fumes are extremely damaging and your blooms will not survive.
4. In extreme cold, cover your blooms with cling film whilst in transit but maintain airflow.
5. Let flowers acclimatise in 10-15cm of clean water for a few hours and use flower food after removing 3cm diagonally from the base of flower stems.

Get surfing online. Visit Pinterest and Etsy and other design/crafty/wedding blogs for inspiration. A bit of creativity goes a long way for a wedding on a budget! What you lack in funds, make up for by way of effort and creativity. Personalised touches often create the most memorable weddings.

How To Make The Perfect Wedding Day Speech.

How To Make The Perfect Wedding Day Speech.
Author : Wedding Photography Select

how to make the perfect wedding day speech

The perfect wedding speech has one top priority; it should cover the customary vital elements that tradition dictates.

Each member of the bridal party has an essential ‘checklist’ they should adhere to; Debrett’s provide a comprehensive online guide. If it’s the groom’s public speaking under focus, he needs to be making sure he’s delivering a speech that compliments his bride. He must then go on to highlight aspects of the wedding day that have been particularly enjoyed by the happy couple. The groom must proceed to thank both sets of parents, friends and anyone else who has contributed to the wedding.

The groom’s speech is an opportunity to present gifts to the best man, bridesmaids, his new mother-in-law and his own mother. His speech should conclude with thanking and toasting the bridesmaids. A groom who has got those elements covered can relax and know he’s delivered the essentials!

make the perfect wedding day speech

If you’re delivering a wedding speech, it’s vital to know your audience. Appreciate the age range you’ll be addressing on the day. Risqué ‘pub-appropriate banter’ (esteemed by your friends’ ears only) is unlikely to appeal to elderly members of the wedding party.

Do your research. Stay mindful of any awkward family politics and avoid stories and jokes that could be considered insensitive or, at worst, offensive. Make sure that any anecdotes have a clearly discernable meaning. Even if your speech contains ‘in-jokes’, they need to be accessible – on one level at least, by everyone in the room.

Speak at a snail’s pace! It’s advisable to speak twice as slowly when addressing an audience. It really helps the clarity of your speech and enhances everyones enjoyment.
Take a deep breath and speak slowly. If possible, use technology to record yourself running through your speech beforehand. It’s a handy way to evaluate its length and suitable content.

If you can, hire a microphone and amp speaker to enhance the delivery of your speech. It’s a great investment; acoustics vary at venues and the wedding party will feel disappointed if they can’t hear you.

Know where your speech is scheduled on the day; pace yourself accordingly until you’ve safely delivered it. If you’re in charge of timings, schedule your speech wherever if feels most appropriate and comfortable. If you envisage feeling nervous, plan to deliver your speech early in the proceedings. It will allow you to enjoy the fun elements of the big day knowing that you’ve got the job done!

the perfect wedding day speech

Finally, be yourself when you make a speech. Unless you’re extremely witty and/or a hopeless romantic, don’t try and conform to those kind of speeches on the day! Observe traditional etiquette, then stick to the points you want to make, delivering them in your own style. Oh, and avoid the Internet for content inspiration (especially one-liners); everyone can spot a ‘Googled’ speech a mile off!

Tips For Picking Your Perfect Wedding Dress.

Tips For Picking Your Perfect Wedding Dress.
Author : Wedding Photography Select

Now that you’ve said ‘yes’, it’s time to find the one.

No, we don’t mean trading your fiance in for a better model; it’s time to slip some (suitable) shoes on and make the ultimate commitment prior to your marriage: finding a wedding dress that you love and sticking with it.

There are three types of wedding dress:

Couture, Made to Measure and Off the Peg.

A Couture wedding dress will be made exclusively for you by a designer and to your exact measurements.

Made to measure dresses are cut from the nearest pattern size to your measurements and will then be altered to fit you.

Off the Peg wedding dresses are the ones you see hanging in wedding dress shops, ready to purchase immediately. Alterations are made to them post purchase to ensure that they are as close a fit as possible.

Start wedding dress shopping 9-12 months before your wedding. It’s essential that you allow a long lead-time on this as due to extreme demand they take a long time to materialise (excuse the pun).

The finer details
Ring ahead and book an appointment, if necessary. Due to popularity and their need to provide patrons with highly attentive service, turning up and simply browsing with the intention to have a casual ‘try on’ is not an option at many wedding dress shops.

Spare your blushes and wear appropriate underwear. An ill-fitting bra spells complete disaster to a dress fitting experience. So does ‘barely there’ underwear that leaves nothing to the imagination. You’ll require assistance to get in and out of wedding dresses. Feeling naked apart from some pop socks is not going to enhance your confidence in any way.

It’s best not to start your married life by having to hide your credit card bills from your new husband. Blowing the budget on a wedding dress purchase is a common (and disastrous) theme. Girls tend to go overboard in this area of wedding planning; maybe because it’s the one area that they’re left footloose and fancy free to do all on their own.

Don’t do dress shopping solo. Always get a second opinion. This will ideally be from someone who is near and dear to you but also brutally honest. You’ll appreciate it when your wedding photos don’t tell the ‘back fat’ story. Trust us.

picking your perfect wedding dress

Take your time. If you’re feeling pressurized in a wedding dress shop to make a decision, then that particular boutique isn’t right for you. Return to ‘the one’ for a second viewing of your dress before committing. It’s a big choice to make and one that you’ve got to be 100% happy with in the lead up to your big day.

Do things in the right order. Don’t choose shoes and a headpiece before you’ve chosen your dress; it dictates everything, from how your hair will be styled through to the earrings/necklace combination that you’re going for.

When you’ve decided on your gown, purchase the shoes for your wedding day. Return to a fitting wearing them so that you’re able to have the length of your dress finalized entirely accurately.

Treat your final fitting like a literal dress rehearsal. If possible, have your hair styled how it will be on your wedding day (if you’re super organised, book your hair trial to take place just before you go to the dress appointment!) and try on your gown with all the right underwear and accessories to complete the look.

After your wedding, get your dress professionally cleaned before the six-week mark. Stains oxidise over time and become very difficult to remove.

Top 10 Tips For Creating A Perfect Wedding Gift List.

Top 10 Tips For Creating A Perfect Wedding Gift List.
Author : Wedding Photography Select

1. Register with a gift list at least six months before your wedding day. Gift list services usually only have a certain number of clients at any given time. Leave organising this until later, and there may not be availability. It is also advisable to give your guests ample time to consider their selections and make a purchase.

2. Make sure the gift list service you are registering with offers a personal, expert service. Is there someone from the service who can advise you and your guests on the different gift options?

3. Try out the gift list prior to committing. Is the process of selecting and purchasing a gift pretty comprehensive? Ideally visuals should be made available online so that people can see images of the gifts they wish to buy, in advance.

Your Gift Selections

4. You may have accumulated many household basics long before any wedding plans, so sit down with your partner and note down what you already have between you. Be very methodical: start with the basics – what do you have? What could supplement what you already have?

5. Consider crockery/cutlery – perhaps you have a mishmash of items between you, and this would be a fantastic opportunity to get some gorgeous sets in a theme of your choice?

top 10 tips for wedding gifts

6. Household items – think about the size of the items you have. Are they easily stored in your home? If you are planning on moving home, think about the storage in your new home. Perhaps a more compatible Hoover would be the perfect gift?

7. Linens- this could be a lovely opportunity to get some fresh tableware, towelling or bedding that you and your partner can choose together.

Consider unusual gifts

8. Make sure you add in some hobby gifts after you’ve covered the basics: perhaps you enjoy the outdoor life? Some garden furniture or a BBQ could be a perfect gift?

9. Perhaps you love relaxing with a game? You could add a luxury edition of your favourite board game or a beautifully crafted chess set. These are keepsakes that you would not necessarily purchase yourself, but guests will love these personal options, knowing that their gift to you will be treasured.


10. Ensure that your list contains a variety of gifts to suit all budgets. Doing so will ensure that everyone who wishes to give you a wedding gift can purchase one.

The Complete Guide to Toastmasters.

The Complete Guide to Toastmasters.
Author : Wedding Photography Select

Put simply, a skilled toastmaster ensures that everything runs smoothly on your wedding day. Does that mean he or she guarantees that you and your partner live happily ever. Unfortunately not, but a professional toastmaster will make sure that your wedding day goes without a hitch!

A toastmaster adds an extra sense of occasion to the day. While maintaining an unobtrusive presence throughout, good toastmasters give the wedding party and their guests the feeling that they are being looked after and that the event is under control.

What does a toastmaster do?
The toastmaster will be there to greet the bride and groom when they arrive at the wedding reception.

He or she can also help to gather up members of the bridal party for photographs and videos for the official photographer.
Welcome guests, show them where the facilities are, and try and answer any queries they have.
Announce the bridal party to the assembled guests.
Escort the bride and groom to the top table.
Announce grace, and the cake cutting.
Announce the speeches and see they are called in the right order.
Bid guests farewell, offer thanks, and anything else that he or she agrees to at the request of the bride and groom.

complete guide to toastmasters

How to choose a toastmaster
A family member or friend often carries out the duties of a toastmaster, but the benefit of hiring a professional is that everyone, including the guests, can relax and enjoy themselves, knowing that every element of the day is under control and in good hands. A trained and experienced toastmaster should exude quiet confidence and will be able to make helpful suggestions and point out anything you may have overlooked. It goes without saying that a toastmaster should be friendly and personable, and someone you feel you can rely on to look after you and your guests on the big day.

Professional toastmasters are likely to belong to an association, so make sure he or she is available for the wedding date and that all fees are agreed in advance. On the day itself, the toastmaster should arrive well in advance to liaise with the venue manager and catering staff over the running order and times for the reception. If you haven’t been recommended a toastmaster by a friend or associate, an online search will quickly produce a list of names, such as the Guild of Professional Toastmasters, The London Guild of Toastmasters, The UK School of Professional Toastmasters, The Institute of Toastmasters of Great Britain, and The English Toastmasters Association.

Once you’ve researched possible options, ensure that you meet with your toastmaster, or at least have a telephone conversation with them prior to signing a contract committing them to their presence on your wedding day. Character counts; choose a toastmaster who you feel will gel really well with your guests and oversee events of the day in a charismatic, yet unobtrusive manner. After all, your wedding is an occasion for celebration, not a military operation!

Tips For Hiring Your Wedding Band.

Tips For Hiring Your Wedding Band.
Author : Wedding Photography Select

Live music can provide the soundtrack to unforgettable moments on your wedding day. It’s important that your choice of live band reflects your musical tastes, as a couple. Their musical style and proposed set list must also support the ambience you envisage creating on your big day.

Things to consider
Consider your wedding venue when booking a live band. Is there actually room for them to perform? Some venues have restrictions on entertainment; for example, groups that exceed 5 members might be banned.

Does a band performing at your wedding require public liability insurance? Many venues will require proof of this as a statutory requirement; without it a live band will not be given permission to perform at your wedding.

Set a budget in advance for a live band at your wedding. This is an important consideration; different groups of live performers have widely varying costs.

Avoid a complete turn-off
Many wedding venues now feature sound meters, meaning that if the volume of music reaches a preset level, the power cuts out. Sometimes, these meters need to be reset by staff at a venue. Others feature a ‘timeout’ facility, meaning that they do not allow live music to restart for a set period of time. Avoid a wedding disaster! Prior to booking a live band, check with your venue if there is a sound meter, and if so, what decibel limit it is set to. It’s also necessary to determine what type; is it a hand held one or permanently wall fixed? There is normally greater flexibility with a hand held device.

Due to local council legislation, sound meters are becoming progressively common. Live bands are used to working within required sound level but it is essential that you are aware of the decibel limit before booking a band so that you can double check its suitability for their performance. A good live band will be able to accurately advise as to whether or not they can work with any restrictions that are in place, without it compromising anyone’s enjoyment.

How to find a live band
Chances are, you might have enjoyed a live band at a friend’s wedding, or seen one performing locally. Seeing a live band perform at an occasion similar to yours is a great way of checking out if they’re suitable to feature at your own wedding celebration. When researching bands, look for live videos of them performing online, and listen to tracks available, either on a cd or on their website. If you haven’t seen a band live, be sure to check out references or seek recommendations from your friends (ideally those with similar musical tastes, to avoid nasty surprises!)

Another great way to source a good live band is via a renowned entertainment agency. Again, seek recommendations, as with everything, there are the good agencies, the bad and the ugly; your wedding isn’t the day to find out! A renowned agency has great contacts on their books and will be able to find you a live band to suit your desired musical genre; ideal if you’re looking for performers who have a very particular style. Bear in mind that you’ll be paying a premium rather than ‘going direct’ if you’re dealing with an agency, but for peace of mind it can definitely be worth it.

tips for hiring your wedding band

A band’s rider is the document that details the terms of your booking and establishes the requirements of the live performers. You will need to make sure that all terms are agreeable to you prior to signing a contract with a live band.

Usual details featured on a live band’s rider are:

1. Size of the band, including any sound engineers and/or roadies.
2. Their required size of stage area.
3. Requested power for the band; particularly relevant if they are performing in a temporary outdoor structure, such as a marquee.
4. Their changing room requirements and provision of security for their belongings.
5. The band’s meal requirements on your wedding day and their individual dietary needs.
6. Time needed for them to set up and sound check.
7. Options for early set up, and establishment of any extra costs for this service.
8. The band’s performance times and rough set lists. How long are their sets, and how long are their breaks in between?
9. Will they provide ‘filler music’ in breaks, or are you expected to do so?
10. Confirmation of their payment terms and a copy of their public liability insurance.

Consider logistics in advance
If your live band is going to be performing in the same room as your wedding reception sit-down meal, consider the space available and whether or not you’re happy for them to set up in front of your guests. If that doesn’t suit, consider hiring the band to set up and sound check prior to your wedding. Logistically, this can definitely work better, especially in smaller venues, where band members installing equipment and checking sound levels could potentially disrupt your guests as they are dining.

Final arrangements
Check the designated performance area’s suitability. Does it have enough sockets available, as per the band’s rider? When you’re producing a plan for your wedding day, note the set times of your live band and plan when they will be having a meal (check this time with your caterer). If your live band will be introducing your first dance or the cutting of your wedding cake, make this approximate time clear in advance so that they are fully aware of the schedule. What’s next? Prepare to hit the dance floor!