2016 brought a slew of revelations my way – some enlightening and then others downright mindblowing. I was blessed to be able to walk away from my career as an engineer in corporate America and pursue Hello Love Events full-time! I dived into my Word more consistently than ever. I lost close to 30lbs in total. I increased my cardiac endurance to the highest it’s even been in my life. I make some breakthroughs in my marriage. I gained victory over some addictions that I have struggled with since childhood.

2016 was hard – but the results made all of the tears worth i. My aim is to make 2017 even better. My word of the year is “become”. To me – this means that I desire to become everything that the Lord has destined me to become in 2017, whatever that may be. A loving wife. A nurturing mother. A prosperous business owner. I want every single thing that He has for me in this season. How do you plan to achieve all of this, you may ask?

One of the things that I learned in 2016 is that the quickest way to reach a goal is to remove all that hindering you from attaining it. Heading into the new year, I began to hear whispers about the resurrection of Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge (which you can read all about here!), I thought to myself – “Well…..I don’t really struggle with being content with what I have” and shrugged it all in every way. But the Lord began to speak to my heart regarding the challenge and, here in January 2017, I’ve begun to hear a new whisper in my heart.

Although I am content with what the things I do have, I am realizing that I have way more than I actually NEED. Therefore, I am answering the call of my heart this year by participating in the contentment challenge and aiming to declutter and purge several  areas of my cluttered life. I want to remove things that don’t serve my or my families’ lives and make room for the things that actually do. These things don’t necessarily have to be tangible items, but we must understand that sometimes the emotions, thoughts, and actions that we can’t touch actually take up the most room in our lives and cause us to lose focus on what’s important and valuable. God is calling me to serve in an amazing and mighty way and in order for me (and my family) to truly be able to absorb everything that He has for us – some things have got to change (or be removed altogether!). Let’s do this!

My contentment challenge will begin in February and go until the end of April. In order to hold myself accountable, I wanted to share something with you! Last week, I was able to dedicate some time to actually recording and organizing the rules, guidelines and monthly goals for the entire challenge! YAY! I want to post them here for transparency (for those of you who are also participating and need some encouragement and/or ideas) AND for accountability (if you read this, be sure to commit to asking me how I’m doing every now and then when you are able! I’d so appreciate it!). Here they are!


I will pop in at the beginning of the challenge (February) and share more specifics about my first month’s theme and goals and also plan to share updates here occasionally. I cannot wait to complete this challenge and review everything that I have learned in order to move forward in 2017 as the very best version of myself that I can possibly be. I am looking forward to supporting hundreds of other women (and men, too!) who have committed to contentment challenges of their own. Here’s to a wonderful kickoff to 2017 – who’s with me!

XO – Coya

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Courtney & Joshua found me on Facebook, reached out for a consultation and when we met in-person it was almost love at first sight. The two of them are quirky, funny and beautiful together and I they also have the cutest little person that I ever did see. His hair gives me all the feels and I just loved their lively and vivacious spirits throughout our wedding planning experience!

Even moreso, Courtney’s parents – Mr. & Mrs. Pamela & Delbert – were SO much fun to work with and continuously had me in giggles all of the time. I believe by the end of the night I wasn’t sure who I would miss more – Courtney & Joshua or her parents!

Courtney & Joshua held their special day at 8 Chains North Winery, a quaint winery located in Waterford, VA – a town a few miles north of Leesburg. Some of my favorite details from their day include a rocking photobooth, pink & green china, and gold dot accessory dishes (what?!!). I also had the pleasure of working with some AMAZING vendors – including Windows Catering and Camille Catherine Photography!

What’s even better – Courtney was one of my interns for 2016 and she worked a wedding with me the weekend AFTER her very own wedding! Either she’s crazy, or she just wanted to be in the wedding scene just a little while longer. Either way, I’m so grateful for these two and the happiness that they brought into my life. Enjoy these amazing images and be sure to take a peek at the vendor team below! xx

View More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-weddingView More: http://camillecatherine.pass.us/courtney-josh-wedding

 

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If you are in the wedding industry and have not made the leap to activate an auto-responder for your email account – stop reading this now and go do it. This blog post will be here upon your return. Trust me! I will, most likely, make a future blog post showcasing my love for the auto-responder that I’ve been using for my own business for the past few months now!

Back to the meat – one of my main frustrations with Gmail (there actually aren’t a lot – I am in LOVE with Gmail, so please understand I’m nowhere near a disgrunted customer) is that they do not have a dedicated auto-responder setting. They do, however, have the option to create an “out-of-office” auto-responder, which is what I use to basically create a never-ending “out-of-the-office, but not really (okay maybe, but regardless), I just don’t check my email every minute of every day, BUT thank you – I did receive your email and will respond as soon as possible!” auto-responder. The only downside to this setting is that it’s meant to be just the opposite: a “temporary” auto-responder – thus, there really aren’t many customizable options to ensure that this function works exactly the way that you want it to in the sense of a general auto-responder.

One of customizable options that I would love to be able to set manually is to not have the auto-responder message saved to the “Sent” folder every time it is sent out to someone. I receive several messages per day, and eventually, this clutters my “Sent” folder and whenever I go there to search for something that I actually manually sent to someone else, it is extremely difficult to find because the entire box is cluttered with auto-responder messages that have been previously sent out. UGH! I had been searching Google’s most innerthoughts trying to locate a solution for this annoying issue to no avail – there was nothing!!!

UNTIL YESTERDAY! I was tinkering around and found the ultimate Gmail hack. The solution to all of my problems! No longer will those messages pile up and clutter my Sent folder! They are now deleted upon arrival and will vanish into thin air. Want to find out how? Read on! (P.S. – I love you, too!)

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STEP 1 – Locate one of the auto-responder messages inside of your ‘Sent’ Inbox. Click it to open it in full view.

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STEP 2 – Click on the ‘More’ Button to access the drop-down menu. Select “Filter messages like these”.

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STEP 4 – A new window pops up attached to the ‘Search’ box. The “From” field should be auto-populated with your email address. Now copy/paste the subject line from YOUR autoresponder into the ‘Subject’ Field. If you don’t remember it, feel free to go and check! This line must be accurate or this will not work correctly. Once completed, select the “Create filter with this search” button.

step3__gmailhack

STEP 5 – A new window appears. Here, select the ‘delete’ option. Also, select the option next to the ‘Create filter’ button that will delete all CURRENT auto-responder messages.

step4_gmailhack

 

This gmail hack will not only delete the future auto-responder messages being sent to your Sent inbox, but it will also take care of those already bogging you down. YAY! You can finally go to your Sent folder and not be totally overwhelmed by the amount of auto-responder messages that are backing up in that folder! Go ahead and start searching for those long lost emails that you just sent YESTERDAY! I promise you it will be a breeze from now on! I hope this was a helpful post for y’all. It’s the little things, right?

Happy Tuesday, friends! xx – Lacoya

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  • Christina l forbes - YAY!!! Oh my goodness! You’re a lifesaver!!! I was just complaining about this on Friday because I was trying to catch up on emails since I had been out of the office due to my Grandfather passing and it was BEYOND overwhelming. So THANK YOU!!! XOXOReplyCancel

    • hellolove - YES!!!! So happy this post was as helpful to you as it was for me when I discovered it. OH GOSH! You’re welcome, girlfriend! xxReplyCancel

  • Ashley Miller Robinson - Life Saver you are!! xoxo!!ReplyCancel

As a wedding planner, I am constantly on the search for tools and apps that make my business better. Whether that be regarding the way that I communicate with my clients and track our wedding planning progress, or moreso for the backend of my company with finances and marketing. I am constantly sharing these applications with all of my mentees and/or wedding planner friends that I thought it would be a great idea to compile all of this information into an easy-to-access blog post!

If you have wound up here from one of my social media platforms OR by way of a direct link that I’ve shared with you – I hope that this information is helpful and that at least one of these is a game-changer in your business!

4musthavetools_weddingplanner


Basecamp

basecamp
I literally would not be able to function without this software. When I first started my business a little under 5 years ago, all of my client communication and file storage took place via Gmail. Any wedding planners out there? Can you imagine how long it took for me to crack? A planner friend of mine dropped the name and I decided to do more research and, honestly, have never looked back. That was about 2 years ago. Currently, all of my client communication takes places via this wonderful app. It allows me to keep EVERYTHING related to each client (discussions, files, action items, to-do’s, calendar items, deadlines, etc.) all in one place AND organized. It may not have the prettiest interface as some of my other client management applications out there, but I’ve tried quite a few out and I always come back to this one. Unfortunately, (don’t be too mad with me!) I’m not sure if Basecamp is still offering Basecamp 2, which is the platform that I currently use. It seems as though they have transitioned to Basecamp 3, which is a bit pricier and more complex than my current platform. But who knows – give it a try and see if it will work for you!


17Hats

17hats
17Hats is what I use to handle my client contracts & payments. I started off my business by requiring my clients to physically print their contracts, sign them and snail mail them to me. I also required all payments to be made my check. Since we are in the 20th century (haha!), I now give my clients the ability to e-sign contracts and submit e-payments – all via 17Hats. I also use 17Hats to house all of my client questionnaires and I use a BIT of the email when confirming initial consultations, linking contracts and payment invoices and reminders. It’s been a total lifesaver AND it allows the financial side of my business stay separate from my client-relationship side of things, which I love!

Planoly

 

planolyI became hip to Planoly via The Rising Tide Society’s founder, Natalie Franke, and I LOVE IT! What I struggled with so much prior to finding an app like this is preplanning the aesthetic of my instagram feed, which all of know – those of us creative business owners who use instagram as a marketing tool – is important! Not only that – but having an app that allows you to schedule posts in advance AND look at your weeks posting schedule, view analytics, etc. is PRICELESS when it comes to achieving some sort of work/life balance. I dedicate one day per week to pre-scheduling as much of my social media marketing as possible – including instagram and blog posts! The only drawback is that it IS a bit pricey. Since I use Planoly for both HLE and The Mor Community – it rounds out to about $45/month. I’ve heard some great things about Unmu and Later, though, so I will definitely be looking into those, soon!

Quickbooks

quickbooks
Whenever I heard ‘quickbooks’ in the past, I always got stressed out. I used to think of super technical, financial numbers that made my head hurt. I just “knew” it was only for official accountants and I immediately tried to avoid it at all costs. After a couple of years of painful tax seasons, waiting until the last minute to compile all of my financial information and just KNOWING that I did not want to work with fickle spreadsheets – I took the plunge. I’m so happy I did because once I shared that I had started using it – so many other creative business owners shared that they did, too! While I am still getting the hang of quickbooks and all of its features, I am already loving the gaps that it is exposing in my finances and the organizational features that I know will come in handy when tax season rolls around AND when financially planning for next year’s activities. If you have been on the fence about it, do it now! While it won’t necessarily take away the necessity of a real bookkeeper when your income begins to increase and you begin to handle more and more transactions, it does allow you to get the hang of your own financial stability and the tasking that you, as the business owner, will always have! And – your future bookkeeper will be grateful. Trust me. 

Those are my life-saving apps that I will probably be using for quite sometime until something better and more efficient comes along. I hope I helped some of you with this information! Are there any apps/softwares out there that you think I may need to check out? Please feel free to drop them in the comments and I will be too excited to do so and let you know how I like them! Here to utilizing tools that creating more efficient, thriving businesses!

xx – Lacoya

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  • Christina l forbes - I’ve been desperately needing Quickbooks….I’m just so beyond nervous because I just know it’s going to be way over my head! But I’m really needing and wanting to know my financial information and gaps so much better. I’d love for you to share come tips on using Quickbooks!!ReplyCancel

    • hellolove - Hey, Christina!
      AH! It is a bit overwhelming as I’m learning it, so I have to take breaks at times, BUT – it is helping me SO much in getting my business finances together! Feel free to send me an email anytime if you have more questions! Although I’m no expert, I will help in any way that I actually can! XOReplyCancel

I absolutely love multi-cultural weddings. I love witnessing their traditions – usually incorporating pieces that are so outside the norm of “traditional” here in the states. Pasaihou & Heyab celebrated their multicultural wedding reception at Woodlawn Manor, a “Georgian-style manor house that includes a Gazebo Garden, expansive lawns, historic boxwoods and several outbuildings that speak to the agricultural operations at Woodlawn during the 19th century: the stone springhouse/meathouse, the log building/possibly slave housing and the board-and-batten tenant house.”

The two families came together as one and showered these two with love, tradition, and one heck of a good time! It was one of those moments that I will always remember at the end of the night when Heyab’s mom came and hugged me in tears expressing her gratitude regarding my small, but mighty part in the day. I was (and still am) so grateful.

I wish you two many, many more! Enjoy a peak into their beautiful reception – photos courtesy of Kristi Odom Photography!

xo – Lacoya

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VENDOR TEAM

Venue: Woodlawn Manor

Photography: Kristi Odom Photography

Coordination/Styling: Hello Love Events

Catering: Lebanese Taverna

Makeup Artist: Phenomenal Faces

DJ/MC: DJ Reese

Florals: DeeDee Floristry

Bakery: Passion Bakery Cafe

 

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  • Kathleen - Beautiful! The sunset peeking through with the light flashes and the silhouette with the garment blowing. Stunning!! Great job!ReplyCancel

    • hellolove - Hi, Kathleen! Thanks so much for the kind words – Heyab was easily one of the most beautiful brides I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with! XOReplyCancel

  • Heyab - You’re the best. So grateful you were such a big part of the wedding- I could never thank you enough. ♥️ReplyCancel

    • hellolove - Heyab!
      Thank YOU for allowing me to be such an integral part of your day. I am forever grateful! XOReplyCancel

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