EPISODE #4: FROM THE GROUND UP, MEETING AND EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS WITH NOOR
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Welcome to the fourth episode of Your Wedding Podcast, dedicated to providing tips, stories, and inspiration for couples to plan their special day. My name is Henry Chen from Aevitas Weddings, and I am a wedding photographer based out of Southern California.
In today’s episode I am excited to share my very first wedding venue guest. Robert Shahnazarian is the owner and head of sales and marketing at Noor, a gorgeous wedding venue in the heart of Pasadena. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing weddings at Noor several times over the past few years. It is one of my favorite wedding venues in the Pasadena area.
It’s a beautiful venue for both outdoor and indoor ceremonies, and is located close to several hotels and restaurants in the area, which is great for your out-of-town guests. In this episode Robert shares all about the wedding venue, and also what it means to really exceed the expectations for our brides and grooms. He give a bird’s eye view and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on to make it possible for couple’s special day.
About Robert; how he went from working with musicians to producing weddings.
Over the past six years, Robert has produced over 2,000 events ranging in all sizes and types including weddings, birthdays, anniversary celebrations, and more. Prior to that, Robert was an in-house music producer at Sony Music working with an extensive list of artists including Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol, and many more. From a wedding venue perspective, producing a successful wedding requires a lot of detail and a well-functioning team.
Robert took the same skill set that it takes to produce a song or a record and applied it to producing weddings. This involves hiring talented people around you to implement each aspect of the wedding, such as the catering service and the drinks, as well as the cleanliness and security of the wedding venue.
Exceeding the expectations of brides and grooms on their wedding day.
Since starting Noor, Robert learned that what clients are paying for when booking a wedding venue is the implementation of details. This can be from the linen color they selected all the way through to the type of sauce that they want on the meat. It’s all about the details. As a wedding venue, the goal is to collect all these details, and at Noor they provide couples with their event planning kit to do just that. This planning kit gathers the deliverables that Noor needs so that on the day of the wedding there is no need to even talk to the couple, allowing them to be in the moment, enjoying their wedding day as everything goes off without a hitch.
Frequent questions from brides and grooms, and the importance of top-notch customer service.
From a higher-level perspective there are three main things that prospective couples want to know; availability, price, and capacity. Since Noor has two ballrooms, they can gauge which room will best fit the couple’s wedding, depending on the number of guests. When starting out, Noor did not yet have the reputation to attract prospective couples, so they relied heavily on a large advertising budget.
However, as the year went on, word-of-mouth referrals have really helped Noor grow in popularity with each satisfied client. As leads increase and inquiries flood in, it was top priority for Noor to put great salespeople in place. This allowed them to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible to interested couples, and provide the best customer service.
The history of the Noor event space and the inspiration behind it all.
Robert came to see Los Angeles less as a melting-pot and more as a multicultural society. When it comes to events like weddings, it is a cultural event that has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. In LA the wedding venue choices have generally been your cultural ethnic banquet hall, something connected to the church, or simply a hotel or country club.
The cultural banquet halls may excel at providing rich, ethnic foods, but most often lack in providing decor. Hotels provide the beautiful look and decor, but often do not specialize in the food, which is a big part of the culture. There was nothing in the middle that had the look, design, service, and location of a hotel that serves the culture. This was the inspiration behind the launch of Noor.
The meaning behind the name, Noor and how it is perfectly suited to their ideal client.
Robert and his wife wanted to give their venue a name that had meaning behind it. In Armenian, the name “Noor” means pomegranate, which symbolizes fertility and abundance. In Farsi, Arabic, and Hindi, it means delight or illumination. Noor provides an alternative for brides and grooms, an urban event venue that is really embedded in technology yet grounded in the classic Art Deco design of the 20s.
This creates a unique feel, something completely different than the hills of a golf course or ocean views of coastal wedding venues. From a photography standpoint, Noor is located in Old Town Pasadena, which creates a magical setting, with beautiful hotels and the city hall at which to take portraits.
Top concerns that brides and grooms have when it comes to choosing their wedding venue.
The next three questions asked by couples usually come up when they arrive for their site tour. The first is parking. This is a big detail to consider when it comes to wedding venues, as you want your guests to have a great experience from start to finish. At Noor they have 3,100 parking spaces or a valet service, so there is no shortage of parking.
The next concern is what time the wedding event can go until. Since Noor used to be a jazz club, they have no noise restrictions and even though they are located in the heart of the city, the club license allows wedding parties to celebrate as late as they want to.
The final concern is lodging for wedding guests. Within four blocks, Pasadena has five hotels and a couple of them are walking distance from Noor. These are great locations for a comfortable stay any local or out-of-town guests.
Event space specifics within Noor and its unique location benefits.
The first space at Noor is the smaller ballroom, Ella, which hosts up to 142 people for a sit-down reception and 250 for a cocktail-style reception. Their larger ballroom, named Sophia, holds up to 350 people or 600 people for a cocktail-style party. What is unique about Noor is that couples can do their wedding and reception at the same location instead of having their guests drive across town to get from one location to the next.
The area in which Noor is located is a private little nook, where there is no retail space. There are just a few trendy restaurants, so that part of the Paseo mall has no foot traffic and is why many brides and grooms are able to do their wedding ceremonies outside on the Noor terrace.
Tips and advice: bridging the gap between vendor and venue.
From a venue perspective, the most important advice is to spend time with each vendor. As the owner of the venue and wanting to see an amazing event from start to finish, Robert knows that once the meal service is complete, it is up to the DJ, MC, and band to make it a party. If the sound system is not good or they are not very organized, it is a reflection on Noor too. This is why he places such importance on making sure the couple has great entertainment because if it is not good, there is very little the wedding venue can do about it.
When it comes to DJs, the best advice Robert can give is that you should not do anybody any favors, having someone first-time DJing your wedding. Really find a reputable DJ, and look at the photos of people dancing and if you see a little kid, a 20-something-year-old, and an old person dancing, that is a good indication that that DJ knows how to get people up and dancing.
The wedding coordinator is the glue that holds your wedding day together.
When hiring a coordinator it really depends on how involved a couple wants to be. There are event planners that you can hire from day one who help you select the wedding venue and other vendors. The other option is a coordinator that comes on two weeks prior to the wedding once everything has already been planned and booked. They will then implement everything that you have already organized, and are known as the “day of coordinator”. Either option is great, but Robert recommends that it is an essential part of your wedding day team and they need to be well-informed of your vision as well as each and every detail.
Communicating expectations is key to keep the party going.
Often times Robert and his team will host weddings that need to end at 11 o’clock. However, as the night goes on everyone is having a great time, the music is going, and a coordinator will come over and ask that the wedding goes on for an extra hour. They then pay for the extra hour and the party continues. Sometimes however, they may request for an extra hour but unfortunately the DJ has to leave. This is why it is crucial not to make any assumptions about the availability of the vendors. Just because the venue can go as late as you want does not mean that other critical vendors can as well. Communicate these hypothetical situation beforehand to avoid your party from ending too soon.
Hosting weddings is an inspiration to impact the lives of others in a positive way.
Robert enjoys hosting weddings and events most of all because it is doing something really positive in the lives of others. Knowing that they are producing and planning these sorts of positive events everyday is a huge inspiration behind Robert’s drive to continue doing this work. From an owner’s perspective, when Robert’s team comes up with great ideas to make even more of an impact on the community, he has the ability to implement the plans. When working at a big corporation, these great ideas get lost in the “ether”, so Robert loves having his team at Noor to help him create beautiful events and live a fulfilled life.
Taking a behind-the-scenes look at the journey of Noor.
When you open a place called Noor in the middle of Old Town Pasadena, you have no idea who is going to walk through the doors. Because of this, Robert and his team created three types of menus; a traditional continental three-course plated meal, the buffet-style service, and the middle-Eastern family style service. Within a year, Noor has gained just as many Korean and Chinese clients as they did Armenian, Persian, and Lebanese. It is a culturally diverse area and Noor has been able to resonate beyond just a middle-Eastern clientele. Noor has become known for being able to deliver what clients are specifically looking for.
The biggest mistake that Robert reflects on is having a wild-design carpet in both rooms. They lost a quarter million dollars in sales just because prospective clients did not like the carpet pattern. Weddings are so customized that couples do not want to be stuck with an outside design that they have no control over. No matter how painful and expensive, Robert knew they had to replace the carpet, but these changes definitely paid off in the long run. At Noor they often also do a lot of the work of the event coordinator, almost to the point of stepping on some toes. They request a guest list, detailed floor plan, a timeline, and vendor contact details for the event to ensure that they have everything in order and nothing is missed.
How to book your wedding at Noor.
The first step to booking your wedding at Noor is to go to the wedding cost estimator on the front page of their website. There you will be given a proposal for your wedding day, and if you accept it you will be booked in to do a site tour. Once you have your proposal, you can download all of the Noor menus and ballroom photos. Noor has made it really easy for the client to figure out exactly what it will cost to host their wedding and whether or not it is the right fit for them.
Before Noor opened, Robert got his MBA and worked on all the marketing strategy for the venue. Part of this process was getting the menus from all the hotels, country clubs, and banquet halls to figure out exact pricing. Without fail, all other venues had fine print charges. Noor went the opposite way to have all of their prices already including the service tax. Prospective clients appreciate this transparency and it makes the process even more efficient.
One of the most important things to remember when planning your wedding is to “enjoy the ride”. Planning your big day is an exciting time that should be celebrated. It is your first big venture together as a couple, and an experience you will never forget. The team at Noor works hard to produce flawless weddings for their clients.
Robert pays close attention to the ideas and feedback of his own staff to better the venue everyday. He is able to cater specifically to his clients to ensure that his couples are happy and that their expectations have been exceeded. So if you are a prospective bride and groom in the Pasadena area, do consider Noor for your special day.
Coming up on future episodes:
On the next episode of Your Wedding Podcast, I am thrilled and honored to interview Trini Leon of Nozza Studio, an amazing wedding planner and long-time dear friend of mine based in Arizona. We will talk all about wedding planning, specifically for brides and grooms who just got engaged and are wondering what the next step is. Along with this we will also discuss topics like the etiquettes of sharing your engagement story, and how to take advice from family and friends. Of course we will also dive into learning more about Nozza Studio.
Outline of this episode:
[0:31] Introduction and overview of episode.
[4:54] Start of interview.
[5:32] About Robert, owner of Noor and head of marketing and sales.
[7:29] The keys to exceeding expectations.
[8:53] Top questions asked by prospective couples.
[12:15] Inspiration for starting Noor.
[14:51] The meaning behind the name, Noor.
[16:52] Top concerns couples have about their venue.
[18:34] Unique elements of the Noor event spaces.
[20:27] Vendor tips and advice from the venue.
[22:46] Discussing wedding coordinator tips.
[24:23] Uncovering misconceptions and lessons learned.
[26:06] Robert’s personal inspirations about hosting weddings.
[27:45] Behind-the-scenes with Noor.
[33:00] Booking your wedding at Noor.
[35:14] Interview wrap up and parting words from Robert.
[36:47] Key take-aways from the interview.
[38:32] Episode wrap-up and final notes.
[40:25] Coming up on future episodes.
Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
- http://www.aevitasweddings.com — my wedding photography business.
- http://www.noorevents.com/ — Noor’s website.
- https://www.weddingwire.com/ — Wedding Wire wedding resource site.
- https://www.theknot.com/ — The Knot wedding resource site.
- http://www.weddingphotographypodcast.com/ — my other podcast, the Wedding Photography Podcast.
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