Thursday, November 5, 2020

Premarital Coaching: Qualities That Make a Great Spouse

 by Deborah Joy Block


At first glance finding the perfect relationship can seem daunting and complex but really it boils down to values. Singles sometimes get caught up in superficial criteria such as appearance, income, education or geography but all of those factors can change. A more permanent fixture is someone’s personality or character. Initial chemistry and lust may start on a physical level but lasting love is generally created by the way someone makes us feel and how they treat us. The following four attributes are crucial characteristics from which all other traits originate. If you meet someone with all of these traits there is a strong chance you will feel a love connection:

1. Kindness – Is the person generous, thoughtful, warm and sincere?
2. Optimistic – Does the person generally have a positive outlook on life?
3. Intellectually Curious – Is the person open to learning new things and growing?
4. Spiritual – Is the individual moral and humble before their Creator regardless of a specific religion?

If you meet someone with these qualities, hold on tight! You have found someone very special and the chemistry will likely ignite!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 About the Owner of The Wedding Dance Specialists

Deborah Joy Block, Founder of The Wedding Dance Specialists spent 8 years living overseas while her parents served as diplomats representing the international image of the U.S. Department of States's Diplomatic Corps where protocol, etiquette and social entertaining skills are a must for diplomatic relations. Deborah Block has since travelled to 16 countries and understands the importance of being able to deftly navigate as a chameleon among different cultures and personalities. Her extensive experience managing a large staff, working with tens of thousands of clients, working as a professional entertainer, certified life coach, image consultant, certified etiquette consultant and certified event planner over the past 20+ years solidified her conviction that kindness and respect is the "international language" that unites all people.

Deborah Block is also a celebrity wedding dance expert. As the Fairy Godmother, Deborah is the nation's leading expert in wedding dance instruction, is the most recommended and teaches more engaged couples than anyone in the DC metro area. She has been teaching and performing for 23 years and pioneered the first wedding dance industry blueprint which inspired this niche industry worldwide! Deborah was featured on the first national television wedding reality show "Real Weddings by the Knot" on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network. Block successfully lobbied the industry to put the "Dance Instruction" category on the map for every major magazine and wedding search engine who traditionally relegated dance lessons into the "miscellaneous" or "unique services" category. This resulted in dance studios across the nation becoming a more relevant part of the wedding planning conversation and the First Dance is now recognized as the most sacred ritual of Western wedding receptions.

Deborah is the publisher of the online newsletter and blog "Wedding Planning 411" and has won countless wedding industry awards for having the most reviews from teaching thousands of engaged couples including celebrity clients. The Fairy Godmother's dance training spans many years and includes several years as a full time apprentice and training with world champions, competition judges and visiting coaches.

Monday, October 19, 2020

We feel overwhelmed. How do we select a dance studio/instructor?

 

We feel overwhelmed. How do we select a dance studio/instructor?

by Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

What are some good signs that a studio is an authentic wedding dance specialist? A dedicated website to wedding dancing (at a minimum), wedding dance social media platforms, real photos of actual clients, media coverage, wedding industry awards, vendor affiliations, off site reviews from third party sources, testimonials with full names and wedding dates, at least 50% of the instructor's clientele are engaged couples, for those looking for a crash course be able to completely prepare you in ONE lesson, be able to attract enough engaged couples to offer group wedding dance workshops, listed high organically on Google.

 What are some warning signs that indicate that a traditional ballroom studio is falsely advertising themselves as "wedding dance specialists?" Slapping up a pink website and calling yourself a wedding dance expert is not sufficient. Stock images, anonymous testimonials, no testimonials for wedding industry vendors, show up primarily on paid wedding websites, their primary focus is on hobbyists and competitors, engaged couples are just "filler income", inflexible with addressing your specific goals, they lure you in with a free lesson or try to upsell you, do not disclose their pricing on their website or other marketing materials, do not offer any guarantees or refunds, minimal or no interaction with the wedding industry in general and have not received awards or recognition from the wedding industry or wedding media.

Good signs that a studio is an authentic wedding dance specialist:
A dedicated website to wedding dancing (at a minimum), wedding dance social media platforms, real photos of actual clients, media coverage, wedding industry awards, vendor affiliations, off site reviews from third party sources, testimonials with full names and wedding dates, at least 50% of the instructor's clientele are engaged couples, for those looking for a crash course be able to completely prepare you in ONE lesson, be able to attract enough engaged couples to offer group wedding dance workshops, listed high organically on Google.

 Warning signs that indicate that a traditional ballroom studio is falsely advertising themselves as "wedding dance specialists" : Slapping up a pink website and calling oneself a wedding dance expert is not sufficient. Stock images, anonymous testimonials, no testimonials for wedding industry vendors, show up primarily on paid wedding websites, their primary focus is on hobbyists and competitors, engaged couples are just "filler income", inflexible with addressing your specific goals, they lure you in with a free lesson or try to upsell you, do not disclose their pricing on their website or other marketing materials, do not offer any guarantees or refunds, minimal or no interaction with the wedding industry in general and have not received awards or recognition from the wedding industry or wedding media.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of what differentiates a specialist from a generalist:

1. Know the difference between a generalist and a specialist. There is a huge difference between a a generic studio who slaps up a pink website with stock images of brides and grooms and then advertises that they are wedding dance experts versus a company whose bread and butter is engaged couples, is primarily focused on that clientele and is superbly adept and addressing their needs. It's the difference between a general physician and a cardiac surgeon. One is a generalist the other is a specialist. Each has different expertise, a different focus and a different clientele. One way to evaluate a service provider is to see if they are addressing your specific goals. One of the problems with a standard dance studio or instructor is that they view wedding couples as "lost leads." This is because the wedding couple has a short term goal - - the wedding, which does not usually lead them to take very many lessons. Keep these facts in mind when you call or go into a studio and especially if they try to upsell you.

1) "FREE" lessons: You get what you pay for! Most "free lessons" at dance studios are a means to get you through the door. Much of the lesson is spent convincing you of the benefits of dance as a lifetime hobby and reviewing lengthy and expensive packages for during AND after your wedding and pressuring you into contracts. The free lesson’s emphasis is not actually on learning to dance but rather on selling you more lessons and since the first one was "FREE" the rest of the lessons will have to be more expensive and/or shorter in duration than other studios to cover the initial loss. It costs a dance studio thousands of dollars to train a dance instructor or pay a qualified instructor, promote their business and cover their expenses. Therefore, studios do not give away QUALITY private lessons for free. DO NOT expect to receive a complete routine in one FREE trial lesson.

2) One dance style versus a variety: The Wedding Dance Specialists leaves the decision of how many dances to learn up to you-the client! Most wedding couples are on a tight schedule and limited budget, they want to focus their attention on feeling comfortable for their first dance in front of their guests. In contrast, general dance studios may discourage students from studying only one dance for various reasons (primarily the bottom line). Complicating a small program (3-5 lessons) with additional dances may result in needing to purchase more lessons and cause a sense of confusion and discomfort on your big day. Feeling comfortable with new dance material generally requires about 5 hours. Depending on your skill and comfort level,it’s O.K. to reevaluate your progress and comfort level after the third or fourth lesson to consider learning the very basics of a second dance but be wary of teachers too insistent on focusing on more than one dance from the onset.

3) Experience of the instructor: Since wedding couples generally purchase small packages (less than 25) many studios have their most inexperienced instructors teach the wedding couples. Our instructors have been specially trained for the unique needs of wedding couples and are all competition or performance level dancers. Dance lessons are as important as any other service you might hire for your wedding. You have every right to ask how long your instructor has been teaching. Would you want to hire a chauffeur who just moved to the area, got his license last week and has never driven the limo before?

4) Flexibility in package options: Be wary of studios who insist you cannot benefit from just one lesson or worse do not allow you to purchase only one lesson at all! Often traditional studios sell pre-packaged combinations of privates with "free" group lessons and practice parties yet you are not given the option to deduct the value of unused or unwanted groups or parties. Even one lesson with the right instructor can show remarkable results. Some students time or budget do not allow for more than one lesson. We understand this and are flexible. We GUARANTEE that you can look and feel more elegant on the dance-floor with ONE lesson compared to just trying to “wing it.”. The Wedding Dance Specialists cater to the unique needs of wedding couples. We created this niche in the metro/DC area years ago because we saw a need was not being met. A couple years after our inception, we have been flattered by those attempting to imitate us. Your wedding dance preparation can be the most relaxing and romantic aspect of your wedding planning process IF you have the right instructor! We encourage you to do your research and compare!

5) The Teacher: The personality, demeanor, image, teaching style are all important factors to consider when selecting a dance teacher.  Just because they are good dancers does not guarantee that they will be good teachers. The teacher must genuinely enjoy working with beginners and ideally have compassion and understanding of the unique pressures that wedding planning involves. Our staff also stay abreast of the wedding industry by reading our two complimentary online newsletters called "Wedding Dance 411" and "Marriage 411" which provide professional planning advice, resources and we have negotiated exclusive vendor discounts on your behalf! We hope you'll read it and benefit too!

6) Price: The rate an amateur dancer can expect to pay for a professonal private lesson can range anywhere between $65 - $140 per lesson depending on where you live, what type of facility is hosting the lessons, the length of the lessons, the quality of the instruction and specific services provided. Ongoing group lessons generally cost about $15 per person. Special workshops cost $25 - $35 per hour/person.

7.) The Duration of the lesson: Lessons that are lower in price but also shorter in duration often end up costing the exact same or even more than lessons that are higher per lesson but longer in duration. The actual cost per minute of instruction may come out even in the wash and the longer lessons will save you a lot of extra commuting time and avoid you having to reserve extra studio visits in your busy wedding planning calendar. If you calculate in all your wasted time, the shorter and "cheaper" lessons may actually cost you more in the long run. The industry standard is :40 - :45 minutes. Our lessons are 55 minutes.

8.) Reputation: Do they have outside reviews from reputable sources? Do they use the last names of their "testimonials"? Do they use real photos of real clients or just stock images? Are they a brand new fly by night or time tested? Do they have a solid relationship with many vendors in the wedding industry that vouch for them? Are they recognized by the media?

9.) Boutique vs Franchise: Stick with sole proprietors or family owned boutique studios. AVOID franchises.: Just like you would not go to a fast food franchise for a gourmet meal, do NOT go to a franchise for a wedding dance specialist. Their business models are not flexible enough to address the unique needs of engaged couples. You will spend more time, more money and learn less than anywhere else. If your goal is to have the best results in the shortest amount of time for the least money, a franchise is not for you. It is geared toward longer term hobbyists with disposable time and money.