WPIC alumni interviewed by: Tracey Manailescu, Co founder & Vice President of WPIC inc.
We find it fascinating how a group of like-minded individuals can come from such varying backgrounds. We all have different likes, dislikes, experiences, education, strengths and weaknesses. These things are what make us unique and what allows us to attract different types of couples.
Yet another reason why we, at WPIC, say that there is enough business for everyone in the wonderful business of weddings. Couples want different planners for different reasons. There are so many different personalities, logistics, budgets, dynamics and cultures that make up a couple’s wedding and that goes right along with the reasons couple’s look for different types of planners.
Below are some of our WPIC alumni and a bit about where they have come from to get to where they are now.
Disclaimer: Yes, there are so many that contributed to this article, and we kept it all in one blog post. We did this because each snippet is interesting, and if we separated them into two blogs or by area, you the reader a) would only read the area you are interested in and b) you wouldn’t read the second post because it would be a similar theme as the first. So grab a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and enjoy the article!
Amanda Douglas of Amanda Douglas Events
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted to be more broad in what I offered (I was formerly under Lace & Lavender – too vintage)
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A dolphin trainer.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I did a creative events internship when I was 18, constantly volunteered at my church and also just love home decor. I went to university for PR and Marketing and realized that wasn’t for me. Event Planning just kept coming back around so I went for it and started my company.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner?
I’m quick on my feet, have a tough skin, and know how to defuse tense situations like when a very large polish man insists that you must bring him whiskey because the bar was closed for dinner (I stood my ground and didn’t waver; all with a smile) or it appears there’s a fire in your ballroom and you need to get 180 people down 7 flights of stairs; calm and orderly (false alarm, someone on the floor below played with a fire extinguisher. After getting everyone back in the room, and lots of guest selfies with the firemen, I managed to make us only 20 minutes behind schedule).
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My personality, calm nature, and my skill in making it all look easy and fun.
Photo: Phat Dog Visuals
Poonam Saini of P.S. Eventful
Why did you choose your business name? I used my initials so the business would be personal to me, and then wanted something in there that was about “events” and not just weddings.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Most of all, a teacher.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I worked professionally in fundraising events and communications for a non-profit organization. It was after my first bridesmaids experience, that wedding planning stuck out to me.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? Being a good listener is the one skill in particular that has made me a better planner. One situation where that skill was helpful was I had a couple who had been engaged for nearly two years before they hired me. They were both beyond sweet and eager to tie the knot, but they really struggled because both sets of parents had different ideas for their wedding. Everyone got along, but there was clear communication issues. When I was hired, we arranged to do monthly meetings with EVERYONE in the family (parents, siblings and the couple). I felt like I was a family counselor! But these meetings were beneficial to all because I felt each individual finally had the chance to have someone hear them out. At the end of the day, the struggle between the couple and their parents was simply that each person just wanted to be heard (have their ideas acknowledged, even if they were not implemented!). In less than six months of being hired, the couple was happily married!
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? P.S. Eventful emphasizes a wedding is about the couple first and foremost. I believe there are no rules to a wedding, except the legal paperwork (and sending thank you cards!). I encourage couples to do what they want instead of what is expected of them. For example, you don’t NEED to have a cake, do a first dance, or have speeches if those things don’t appeal to you.
Amanda Kueneman of Like a Star Weddings & Events
Why did you choose your business name? I have always loved and collected star knickknacks, so I knew I wanted the word in my business name. A friend asked me over coffee while brainstorming how I wanted my clients to feel on their wedding, and the name was born!
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a news reporter, or a writer!
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I’ve always been the planner in our family. From parties, surprise birthday parties, bbqs and showers. My first real exposure to wedding planning was helping my cousin plan her wedding in 1 month. After that I knew I wanted to continue helping couples with their weddings. I also planned my own wedding in just 4 months! I have a diploma in accounting which allows me to keep couples on budget, and the WPIC course which gave me the tools to help couples.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I’m a problem solver by nature. Which is beneficial with weddings as you never know what might happen. A forgotten toss bouquet? I created one with centerpiece flowers. Head table set up in front of large grey emergency doors? Used a table cloth and table runners to create a nice backdrop. A DJ/Friend didn’t have any of your songs for your dances? I was able to buy them all online on the spot.
I am very organized, and detail oriented. I once to oversee the place card table when the family member didn’t show up. There was no seating chart and lighting was very poor. Luckily I had a copy of the seating plans on hand to help out! I have had a DJ play a wrong song which I was able to quickly correct, and have straightened over 200 chair covers and sashes on a few occasions.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My easy going and friendly nature help my couples feel comfortable and relaxed. I encourage couples to let their personality and creativity come through with their wedding. Weddings are about the couple, and should reflect them!
Sonia Kohli of Dashing Dulhan Weddings and Events
Why did you choose your business name? Choosing a name was a difficult task. I wanted to specialize and cater towards the South Asian community. When I realized I used the word “dashing” commonly in my daily life, I paired it up with the word Dulhan which means bride in Hindi. I want couples to feel their utmost best on their wedding day, and from there the name was born!
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a teacher for the longest time.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I’ve always been the creative one in the family. When family and friends were planning their weddings and events, I would be the “go-to-girl” to help them plan or conceptualize. The first time I actually planned a wedding was for my cousin and from there I realized the passion I had for planning. I went on to expand my love for it and volunteer with other planners. It was after volunteering at a few events that I decided to complete the WPIC course. I couldn’t have been happier with my decision!
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? Attention to details is what makes me a better planner. Details can sometimes be an oversight, especially by the couple who are already feeling the excitement of tying the knot. As a planner knowing the details and paying attention to them is such an important part of planning. From ensuring the correct format for writing an invitation is used, the correct number of chairs are on each table, ensuring backdrop mirrors are cleaned and napkins are folded correctly, these are some of the scenarios in which I’ve put my skills to the test.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My “go-getter” personality and my love for personal touches. With determination, sincerity and effort, I give each wedding my all. I want every couple to feel that their wedding is about them and adding personal touches is a great way to display their personality as individuals and as a couple. On the big day, I want each couple to feel nothing less than Dashing!
Liz Josevski of Alfresco Wedding Planner
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted to pick a business name that would reflect something about me and also speak to my wedding couples. The word “Alfresco” means ‘in the open air’ in Italian. I love and appreciate nature and love being outdoors ‘in the open air’. I also want to specialize in outdoor weddings, or bring the beauty of nature indoors. I think outdoor weddings can be so elegant and romantic. So the name Alfresco Wedding Planner was perfect!
What did you want to be when you were growing up? My first career choice was to be a professional violinist…really.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I took Business Marketing in College, and my work experience is in the Insurance and Retail industry. While that may not sound like it would lead anyone to do wedding planning, in all those work positions i always got involved in extra activities such as the fund-raising committee, planning a corporate baseball tournament, and other corporate marketing gatherings. And on a personal level, I have panned a baby shower, and BBQ get-togethers for 50+ guests and birthday parties.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I am extremely organized! Eight years ago i was the General Contractor in building my own house. There was a lot of coordinating different contractors to come on time, building supplies to be delivered when needed, keeping a budgeting and making paying on time. Plus there was a lot of research involved and interviews and hiring the right contractors.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Planning and coordination is what I am good at and love doing . I am also a good listener and want to personalize each wedding to the couple’s wedding vision. I want my wedding couple to feel at ease on their wedding that i am looking after all the details so they can enjoying their first day of their new life together.
Photo: Life Images
Crystal Adair-Benning of Distinct Occasions
Why did you choose your business name? I always knew I wasn’t part of the crowd. I wanted something that felt black sheep inspired and unique. ‘Distinct’ just stuck. Occasions was easier. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to BE a Wedding Planner so I let Occasions guide me to be open to more down the road.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A teacher. An airplane pilot. An explorer. Not a Wedding Planner.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I fell into wedding planning. I was in University doing my Masters Degree and broke. I saw a lot of sparkly rings around me and thought “I could do that”. See a need — fill a need. My business was born of necessity making money from something I was good at. I was creative, organized and calm. It helped.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I’ve learned to be a Planner you always must think on your feet. Real world experience counts. Being able to empathize with a couple, counts. You need to be able to move quickly and be decisive. I’m always able to look at a situation from multiple angles, make a decision and react. That’s the job. For example, I once produced a wedding where the bride’s flowers arrived and were just 80’s awful. What a mess. The bouquet was wrapped in plastic ribbon and looked like it was for a childs birthday party. I immediately made a decision that it had to be fixed. The bouquet was disassembled, new blooms were snipped from local gardens and a pretty neutral grosgrain ribbon was added to the stems. Crisis averted.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? It’s been 15 years and hundreds of amazing couples. We stand out because we put our heads down and do the work. We focus on our couples and make the wedding distinctive and authentic to who they are. I’ve never been big on “trends” in the Industry and certainly not about following them. I simply design and create with my couple in mind. If they’re thrilled; I’m thrilled.
Ron Finlay of Perpetual Rhythms Entertainment Services
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I was torn between Law, Engineering and Teaching. Now, I write contracts and negotiate deals, have an engineering consulting career and teach at two colleges, wrote books for the DJ business and teach workshops, so I got all three wishes granted.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? My engineering degree in electronics and acoustics made me see the shortcomings of DJ at that time, so I decided I could do better. Now, from my engineering and teaching worlds, I draw problem solving methods, or as I prefer, problem prevention. When I arrived to DJ a wedding, I noticed many things that could have been different, so I decided to put myself out there to help sooner, and hence took your course and become WPICC. I use it when needed, but refer to other WPIC alumni when ever I get a bride who wants the end to end “treatment.”
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I start from a position of raw data, no emotion, yet. I help the client with budget before they fall in love with a wedding they can’t afford. Otherwise, it’s uphill all the way. Then, I layer in the technical contribution of lighting and sound to create the atmosphere that communicates emotion. Being a numbers guy, I make lists, such as 350 dates to avoid selecting for your wedding. 22 things to consider when choosing a venue ; 40 factors affecting a tent/outdoor wedding, 34 things to know when hiring a DJ for your wedding and many more. These provide real world experienced data and form the foundation of a workshop / seminar series I’m creating to help others. The industry wins when couples have happier weddings and we all gain from the growth.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Because I offer 3 services, while independent, they offer high combinational value. I help plan the wedding, then attend the ceremony and venue to run the wedding as DJ/MC and often teach the couple to dance in our studio, so I’m as proud as their parents and it’s a nice feeling watching “the kids.” I surround myself with their happiness and feel great to have been a part of their day.
Emily Janzen of Feast & Festivities
Why did you choose your business name? I was inspired by age-old feasts around an oversized table with good company. Food brings us together. I also wanted a name that would communicate my interest in planning and designing a variety of celebrations, or festivities if you will, from dinner parties to weddings.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A business owner.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I completed University for my Marketing and Entrepreneurship degrees, not knowing what type of business I wanted to own yet. I decided to pursue a career in the corporate world as an Account Manager at a marketing firm, with hopes it would come to me one day. I have always been very detail oriented, creative, and focused on making everything look pretty. If it looks good, it is good, right? Eventually I discovered I gravitated towards planning events, and voila, this was what I needed to be doing.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I have found my experience as an Account Manager is directly transferable to wedding planning. As an Account Manager for 18 clients, I was the middle-man, working to understand what the client wanted, interpreting it, and bringing in other sources to make the vision a reality. It was high pressure work, with a lot of unreasonable expectations that I needed to manage. I use these skills daily to keep several clients/projects organized.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My brand, design style, and pleasant personality.
Krista Olynyk of Kj and Co.
Why did you choose your business name? Coincidentally, KJ and Co. was the name of my personal DIY blog and I already had the domain name when I decided to launch my business. KJ and Co. still seemed like a good fit because it felt inclusive of my fellow event-pro family members that help out on my events occasionally.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? My mom and I always day-dreamed together about planning weddings when I was younger, but then I decided on hair-dressing instead. I was determined to own my own business like my parents had when I was younger.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? With my mom working as an interior designer, then event coordinator and director of design for an event company, I was very lucky to be exposed to design and events at a young age. Funny enough, I started out in costume as a nutcracker at a corporate Christmas party, then began helping out as event crew and prop production when extra help was needed. Over the last 15 years I’ve made my way through the freight elevators and loading docks of luxury hotels, casinos, convention centres and more. While this was awesome experience, the corporate event side of things was not my fave. I took a winding career path (marketing and hairstyling diploma, 4 years as a hairstylist and 4 years in medical administration/corporate training) before I finally decided I was ready to dive in to events again and more specifically weddings. I see now that all this different training and work experience comes in handy. Even from my retail and hospitality years serving up treats at a golf course.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I’m one of those weird people that loves organization and building spreadsheets. It just makes it so much simpler for me to consider info and quotes and also to help my clients with decision making. Building my own planning worksheets has been instrumental in helping clients through a smooth planning process and staying organized with so many projects on the go at once.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I have a pretty eclectic portfolio, showcasing different decor styles and different types of receptions. Everyone from the traditional elegant golf course wedding to a cocktail reception in a coffee house. Modern, traditional, you name it. Everything has an approachable feeling.
Photo: A Vision Studios
Rebecca McCracken of High Gloss Weddings
Why did you choose your business name? My husband actually helped come up with the name, he is a car guy and were discussing car stuff when it came up in conversation & it fit! Simple and to the point!
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Fashion designer I watched a lot of Fashion television growing up, and still idolize Jeannie Becker!
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I took skincare & make-up in school and after becoming an aesthetician, I got roped into doing make-up for multiple cousin’s weddings & my love for weddings was sparked! I became the goto wedding person in the family, and after taking my WPIC I officially launched into the world of wedding planning with High Gloss Weddings.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? On the job, aka wedding day, I have had to jump in at times and use some of my decor skills to assist with set ups & fix DIY items. One wedding we had to re-pin the draping on a head table, i now keep a very stocked decor kit in my vehicle, just in case! Another wedding it had rained a few hours before ceremony, all the folding chairs had puddles on the seats, luckily I plan ahead and keep paper towels & towels in my truck! The on the job experiences has made me better prepared for the “what ifs” that might happen on a wedding day.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My business stands out because of the services we provide, the care, and the passion we put into each wedding day. My Team at High Gloss is very dedicated and work hard at every wedding to make sure that that couple, and their families enjoy the day! We want the entire wedding experience to be stress free & memorable.
Linda Payne of Designer Weddings & Special Occasion Rentals
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted my brides to know that the weddings we create are unique to them. We are wedding designers that can create most any vision.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? – I always wanted to be a mother – or Miss America whichever happened first
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? – I have been certified by WPIC, I am also an Event Designer with IWED Institute and I have studied with Preston Bailey. I have had my own wedding decor company for 7 years and found myself apologizing to my brides that I wasn’t a planner even though I did help them with a lot of the planning. I decided I better get the knowledge I so badly lacked
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? Well, I have 8 children…6 of which are girls. All of them wanting bigger and better weddings than the previous one. By the time they were all married I have so much stuff and so much experience planning weddings that my friends began coming for advice and to “borrow” my stuff. After a while I decided that I should just “get more stuff” and start a business. So I did. Who knew how successful it would be? My husband and one of my daughters work right along with me. My daughter and I have taken all the training together. Our next goal is to become Destination Wedding Planners.
Over the years I have also been the president of several large organizations within our church which involved planning large activities a number of times per years.
What real life experience shows my skills? – My oldest daughter gave me 6 weeks to plan her wedding for about 275 guests, 6 maids of honor, 6 groomsmen, and a flower girl. The ceremony was held in our yard, followed by a luncheon for 60. (planned & prepared by myself and some helpers). We sewed all the bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dress, the veil, the groomsmen ties, cummerbunds and vests (it was a hot day!) We also made all the bouquets, invitations and thank you cards. With 8 kids you can accomplish a lot if you set up an assembly line. The reception followed after pictures, we prepared all the food for that as well. The decor was fairly simple but still elegant. The next daughter gave me 5 months for 250 people, with a reception in two locations and more complicated decor, still sewing the bridesmaid dresses and making the invitations and thank you cards – She was married on Friday and her sister (daughter #3) was married 3 days later on the Monday with approx 150 on the guest list. I had to plan two family weddings on the SAME WEEKEND! ’nuff said. I LOVE IT!
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? We are very diversified and can provide experience and information for all types of weddings whether they are cultural, religious, fancy or plain. We have an excellent working/friendly relationship with all our vendors, we provide quality workmanship, we are easy to get in touch with and most emails are answered within the hour if not less. We are open, friendly and easy to talk to and quick to see the vision of the couple. We also can provide for our brides “in house” rather than having to outsource.
Photo: Lee Weston Photography
Antonella Cerminara of Your Day Made Simple
Why did you choose your business name? I chose my business name because I want my clients to know by hiring me for all their wedding/event needs they will experience simplified planning with stunning results.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Growing up, I wanted to be a police officer but then I soon realized that running would be involved.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? In my late teens, early twenties I planned quite a few events for friends and really enjoyed the whole process. I then planned my own wedding and had such a great during the entire process that after it was done I realized I wanted to help other couples.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I have many great skills but my best skill is that I have the ability to speak to people in a calm and encouraging manner. The very first wedding I did I had a bride who did not take any pictures with her in-laws despite the fact that she had asked them to attend the photo session after the ceremony. At the reception her in-laws were very upset and this was causing issues between the bride and groom. I took it upon myself to go and speak with the in-laws and after several encouraging talks, they finally decided to go and take the necessary photos.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I enjoy what I do and work hard for all my clients so much so that I go that extra mile for their wedding/event.
Beverley Renny of Weddings & Travel by Beverley
One can’t get much more personal than by using your own name in a business name! And I want my clients to feel that they are getting 100% of me when planning their special day. It’s also a practical way to ensure that no one else can trademark your business name as personal names can’t be trademarked.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I actually wanted to be a veterinarian – or someone like Jane Goodall working with animals.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I studied Business Administration and my whole career has been either in an accounting environment or executive coordinator type positions where I organized a lot of special events. I also renovated a 140 year old barn so that my husband and I could get married in it – then I planned weddings for others who wanted to use it also.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I am very organized and committed to any project I am given to do. I worked at a non-profit one time where there was a lot of unrest to the point where almost all of the staff just walked out one day. Their main fundraising event was due to happen in 6 weeks and nothing had been done to organize it. This was an event that usually needed at least a year to organize properly. Long story short – I managed to pull it off on time; the most money ever was raised at that event; and I took it to the next level where it became the community’s most popular annual event. (Oh – and while I worked on that, I managed to process the payroll for 50 people as the accounting person had walked out too )
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I listen very well to ensure my clients get the wedding day of their dreams – exactly what they want and beyond. I am very detailed oriented and those little details always make such a big difference. I also have great working relationships with vendors – when you have a great team to work with, you can pull off great weddings!
Heather Declavasio of Wisdom Weddings
Why did you choose your business name? I chose my business name because I have learned I love to teach people. Anywhere I can, I try and give as much information or in this case “wisdom” to help out another as much as I can. Owls, being a symbol of wisdom and also having recently caught my interest and fascination, allowed for creating a fitting business name.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Nurse
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? In my teenage years and into adulthood, I had the nickname “Mama Gill” (Gill being from from maiden name Gillem), which I did feel became part of my identity. I was always the one taking charge of group outings, trips and of course making sure everyone was having fun but most of all safe! My girlfriends grew to knew that itineraries and timelines were something that would become the norm if “Mama Gill” was planning! After working in a medical clinic and finishing early in the day, I felt I needed more and I thought, if I could do something different from nursing, what would I do…planning of some sort, of course! I started my research and found my destiny of WPIC. Certified in 2009, I have been a part the WPIC Alumni since. 2015, I rebranded, renamed my business and have been pushing full force for towards my goals. I have become the Niagara Regional Rep and have loved being even more involved with WPIC.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I think to be honest, what has made me a better planner has been in my personal growth in my last few years of life. I have grown to be a different person in recent years then who I was when I was 25. I’m older, wiser but more careful. I see the world in a different way. I did some soul searching over the last few years and I have found out who I really am. My own wedding was a huge eye opener because I feel I can now build a more emotional connection to my Brides and Couples then I could before I got married. My wedding day was the most amazing day from start to finish and I want to help my couples get to feel that feeling. I have been in their shoes and now can help to really break down each part of the planning to create a day that speaks to them.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I decided with Wisdom Weddings, I wanted it to be unique. As Wisdom Weddings, I want to offer unique and fun services as well offering traditional planning services. I help all couples, even if they aren’t looking for a wedding planner. The wedding industry is rapidly growing and you really have to find your niche and do you. And that is what Wisdom Weddings is about! We are continuously learning and bettering ourselves, continuing to think up services couples need to help while planning their wedding!
Photo: Nikko Photography
Maria Sun Dela Cruz of Envision Elegance
Why did you choose your business name? I really wanted my business name to stand out and express how I saw weddings to be – elegant affairs.
The Royal Wedding was fast approaching and I wanted something with a similar feel that was grande, and borne Envision Elegance.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?A teacher. A writer. A pharmacist. A buyer.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I want to say neither, rather “life experience” led me to wedding planning.
I attended a wedding and thought it could have been better and smoother, planned more effectively and wondered if I could become a wedding planner.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? Organization has always been my forte and problem solving on my feet.
Throughout my school years, I have always taken extensive notes and always scheduled/prioritized tasks with check lists.
It truly paid off when my first client forgot her wedding speech and I had a copy in my binder. It was on the podium before she got to the reception hall – crisis averted and she didn’t have to read it off her cell phone!
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I believe every wedding can have a touch of elegance, whether big or small.
I work with all couples with a wide range of budgets, but I am also very realistic in my approach and will source vendors/suppliers that will work best for the couple.
I always enjoy bringing a couple’s vision to fruition.
Paige Petriw of Spotlight Events
Why did you choose your business name? My goal is to make every event shine bright, and every couple sparkle on their wedding day. I also strive to shed light on the whole event planning process, and make it easy and fun. Spotlight it all about having fun, being comfortable and finding unique experiences to share.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Event planning was always high on my list, but I also dreamed of working in TV and broadcast journalism.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? Pursuing a degree in Communication opened the door a lot for event planning. I also worked in hospitality for 8 years which was huge for understanding customer service, catering and venue logistics. Eventually I landed a couple of corporate event planning jobs which really helped me gain hands-on experience. The Wedding Planners’ Institute of Canada and a Wedding and Event Management program at Vancouver Community College were vital for transitioning from corporate to weddings.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? The ability to stay calm in high pressure situations is a crucial one. On any given wedding day, I can have up to 15 vendors relying on me to organize them, answer questions and problem-solve. I’ll be pulled in a hundred different directions at the same time, and I need to stay calm and give my undivided attention to each without getting frustrated or overwhelmed. The skill of anticipating where things could potentially go wrong and being one step ahead has definitely made me a better planner as well. On one occasion at a wedding, the DJs hired by the couple had a business dispute right before the reception doors opened, resulting in a near fist fight. To diffuse the situation, I had to (calmly) ask one of the DJs to leave. Later on, before the first dance the DJ who stayed informed me he did not have their custom-mixed first dance song – the other DJ had taken it home with him. Luckily, I had insisted the couple give me a copy of the song before the wedding day, just in case, and I had it loaded on my iPod. It was anticipating the possible A/V issues or any music miscommunication that put me one step ahead… even though I couldn’t have predicted the scenario that played out with the DJs!
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? We are authentic, fun and full of personality! We conduct ourselves with professionalism, but always make a personal connection with everyone we work with. We just love a good celebration and care about the people being celebrated.
Photo: Avenue Photo
Many people have asked me, “Why Jacaranda Events?” or more pointedly, “What’s a Jacaranda?” While the choice is very personal to me, I will try to share my vision and how Jacaranda Events came to be.
I recently spent three years living abroad, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is an experience I will treasure forever, along with the friends I met and the memories I made with my family. During those three years, I was a full-time momma, with my focus being my two beautiful (and BUSY!) children. After over fifteen years in customer service, business administration and management, it was a treasure to be able to spend some time meditating on my “next step”. Through lots of self-reflection and consultation with friends, family and colleagues, the idea of forming an Event Planning Business became more than just an idea and I started working on a business plan.
What’s in a Name? My time in Australia was life-changing to me, and I felt that my new business, whose seeds were cultivated under the fabulous palm trees of sunny Queensland should reflect that experience. As a self described “CanAussie”, I wanted the name of my new business to reflect this other side of my decidedly Canadian roots. Somehow, Kangaroo Parties or Koala Weddings just didn’t seem appropriate. Two examples of the beauty of Queensland that really captured me while I was there (besides the stunning ocean views on the coast or the breathtaking beaches), were the frangipani flower and the jacaranda tree. Unfortunately, no one can say or spell “frangipani” (even the spell checker on this blog can’t pick it up), so I decided to use the jacaranda. When I thought more about it, I realized that it was actually pretty appropriate:
The Jacaranda tree has lower, wide reaching branches that provide plenty of shade and shelter to children playing and lovers picnicking in it’s wake. Jacaranda Events do the work and shelter clients from the work and stress of planning their events and parties so that they can play and eat and enjoy themselves.
The Jacaranda tree is bare for most of the year, blooming and blazing brilliantly for all to enjoy for a short period in the spring, then shedding it’s blossoms to spend the rest of the year nurturing and growing the next year’s blossoms. Jacaranda Events does all of the hard work behind the scenes, spending countless hours of preparation resulting in our client’s event shining brilliantly for all to enjoy.
The Jacaranda tree may have origins throughout the world, but it is definitely a strong representative of my second home, Queensland, whom I can only hope to represent well here in the Great White North.
Bernadette Galego, Serendipity & Co Inc. www.serendipityandco.ca
Why did you choose your business name?I truly loved the meaning of the word ” Serendipity” and felt that it really was a career that dropped in my lap or as the definition is ” found something of value while totally looking for something else. ” I was just helping my sister-in-law at the time plan her wedding and things went so wrong on her wedding day that I needed to fix as her Maid of Honor. I had to make a lot of executive decisions and fix a lot of problems. At the end of the night, the owner of the photo/video/dj company she hired told me I needed to be a wedding planner! After three weeks of insisting I should do this, I looked up wedding planning courses on line, found WPIC and registered!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?Oddly enough, I wanted to be an esthetician! Only I ended up being a Mortgage and Loan Manager at a bank but after having my children , I opted out of a career to stay home and raise my sons.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? The WPIC course and just a passion and talent for planning and marketing my business!
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I guess being a mom, and being OCD gave me the best skills. Being able to make important decisions on the spot. Just having a knack for making everything better. Relating to these young brides and giving them that motherly shoulder to support them. As for a real life example, 2 years ago, I had 3 weddings on the same date. July 19, 2014 to be exact. 1 wedding was to be held at the Renaissance by the Creek. They had booked two salons as they were expected 300 plus guests however 3 weeks before their wedding their final guest count was at 150 guests and they faced paying $6000 to make their room minimum. The other couple was booked at the Grand Metropolitan, however 3 weeks before their wedding, their venue shut its doors. After receiving that dreaded call from a stressed out Bride a call was made to the Renaissance and within a day, we moved the original couple to Salon C helping them to avoid the room minimum and placed the couple with no venue in Salon A & B to accommodate their guests. Posting about this on my social media then caused City News to request an interview with my clients which later resulted in my clients getting a full refund of their deposit from the original venue that had shut it’s doors! Both clients were elated. I call that my ” fairy Godmother” moment!
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Serendipity & Co has become a household name in the Portuguese community as we have planned and coordinated weddings to many well known people in our community. We recently just won the Top Choice Award for Top Wedding Planner in Mississauga. We are known for our amazing team as well as our ” Serendipity Stock” which has grown over the years with items that I design and purchase for use to decorate and use as props at our client’s weddings.
Photo: C. Phalen
I’m Jenna Sampson, owner of and primary coordinator for J Marie Weddings located on beautiful Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.
I chose my business name because I want my brand to reflect who I am and my values. I know my strengths when it comes to planning, so I want my brand to tell that story. I feel once I meet a client for the first time they feel reassured knowing I pay attention to details and that’s my biggest selling feature. But not only that, I also truly enjoying helping people, both in my personal life and in my professional career. I strive to treat each client the same way I would my closest friends. It’s all part of the reason I put my name as the foundation of my brand. In a small town, your name is your reputation so I wanted that to be at the forefront of my business.
When I was growing up, I loved to write in my journal. I would make up stories and pretend I was writing to a sibling who lived in another city. I love to write because I feel it’s a way for me to de-stress. It’s no surprise that I took Public Relations in University, aside from my professional wedding planning designation.
It was both my schooling and work experience that led me to wedding planning. In my career as a marketing and media relations manager, I often plan events for my organization. I LOVE laying the pieces out and then bring it all together. I especially love working with a great creative team. In 2012, just before I finished my PR degree, I stumbled across a WPIC ad in a magazine, and immediately it caught my eye. From that point on I could not get the idea of becoming a wedding planner out of my mind. I checked out the website and enrolled in the coordination course that spring.
My attention to detail is my strongest skill as a planner. I come from a very large family, so I’ve attended many weddings in my life. Every wedding I attend I am taking mental notes of ways in which I would have offered advice to improve something if this couple was my client. A lot of people wouldn’t think the details make a big difference but they most definitely do. A supper without dinner music is going to be a lot more boring and drab than a supper that has background music playing between speeches. Imagine a live harpist or piano player, serenading your guests while they mingle and share in festivities. Sometimes setting the scene is necessary in order to show how the small details really do make a big difference.
I think what makes my business stand out is that we go above and beyond for our clients, no matter what the cost. I don’t do a lot of advertising because I think word of mouth, especially in a small town like Cape Breton, will bring your clients to you. I have come to truly believe the saying, “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trade mark.” – Jay Danzie
Photo: Amsis Photography
Marbella Berroa of Marls Productions
Why did you choose your business name? We wanted to create something strong, different and something that can combined each part of the business in one (decor rental and planning being our main service the rental). So we played with the words of my name and attached to productions.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Like many girls, I always wanted to be an actress but I was terrible at it. While being in acting school I used to help a lot in the production of every show.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? Well, after I noticed how bad I was as an actress in my high school and noticing my ability as producer and then, the same happened when I went to the university. We always designed events and for some reason I always was chosen to be in the production team. My career’s director sent me to a event planning company (which also had a rental side of the business) as an intern and I just felt in love with event productions and rental.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? It will sound cliche but I am really organized, I love fashion, interior design, I love love and romanticism, I love creating so everything came to one point. I remembered when my family had birthdays or the “family karaoke nights” I always was in charge, always setting the tables up, I was the one who knew where certain things were during the night and how to get the audiovisual running, etc.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Marls Productions is different from others because we plan our wedding with the most trending decor, without leave the elegance of the weddings.
Because I am also a cake decorator, birth doula, breastfeeding counselor, so many of my couples contact me after for the baby shower cake/event planning, help them through labour, and then handle birthdays for years after. So the concept is, I can help with every STAGE of life (hence our tag line, helping you STAR in the moments of your life).
Last summer, I received a call from an irate ceremony site’s coordinator. She had been informed that the couple would be using their “preferred vendor” for outdoor ceremony chair rentals. The bride had changed her mind and went with a newer, cheaper rental company the week before, and I had the information. I headed to the site, showed the contract info, as well as provided their liability insurance coverage (which turned out to be all it took to clear it up… I could tell she was concerned about a new company’s liability insurance). My assistant and I also helped out with setting up the chairs (as that disagreement between the venue coordinator and chair company set them behind schedule.
I took Hospitality and Tourism at Centennial College which lead to an amazing internship at WPIC. I also took a post grad certificate in Event Management from Centennial. I was always the one planning event for family and friends, so it seemed like a natural career choice.
My extensive travel attending industry conferences, reviewing hotel properties, private wedding venues and wedding packages allows me to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and build an extensive network of top industry professionals worldwide.
This is particularly beneficial to my clients because I am able to recommend international vendors that I have worked with in the past and continue to maintain relationships with regularly. This offers my clients peace of mind knowing that dedicated wedding professionals will be hired for their big day and provide top notch service 🙂
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I operate my business as a full time destination wedding planner. I specialize in moving beyond the boundaries of traditional resort weddings and instead plan spectacular celebrations in an array of private venues throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. Because I specialize in non-traditional destination weddings, I see a big market of couples looking for a more personalized destination celebration beyond the typical resort wedding packages.
I chose that business name because when I were still new to the wedding industry I told myself that one day I will have my own business and I’ll name it More than “I do”. The name explains itself, it is more that just weddings and my purpose is to help people with their event whatever it may be.
Chel Saberon-Springer of Blush and Bashful Events
Why did you choose your business name? There is a scene in the movie Steel Magnolias where a bride describes the colour motif for her wedding. She refers to ‘blush and bashful… two shades of pink – one much deeper than the other.” It was then I knew I was hooked on weddings, event planning and all things to do with love. How could I not pay tribute to where it all began?
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I always thought I would be the next Oprah meets Martha Stewart. The dream is still alive!
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? With formal studies and work experience in both radio and television and subsequently public relations and corporate communications, I was always exposed, if not fully immersed in event planning – working on large scale projects such as organizing charity walk/runs and golf tournaments and in my wheel house of planning formal and elaborate galas. Surprisingly, it was through the smaller grass root events – employee appreciation BBQs, community holiday celebrations and donor recognition initiatives – where I rediscovered my niche. Those types of events were about the people. Individuals I was lucky enough to get to know, each on a personal level – celebrating them was my honour and my pleasure.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? You learn very quickly in real time situations how to improvise. I remind all of my clients, ‘no one knows what you have planned, so no one knows when something is going wrong.’ A few years ago I coordinated a wedding where everything that could possibly go wrong, did. It began when the scheduled make-up artist called the morning of the wedding, said she was sick and was not going to make it. Luckily I had a house guest, a make-up artist who was enlisted to save the day. Right before the ceremony the bride, understanding distraught, learned that her father, at the 11th hour, would not be able to make it and would not be able to walk her down the aisle. Thinking quickly, I discreetly plucked the bride’s mother from her seat (unaware of the situation) to walk her daughter. From the site for pictures to the reception, the bridal party transportation broke down without a back-up vehicle – I called for 2 taxi minivans (became a great photo op!). At the venue – the DJ could not plug into the house system – I convinced the sound and AV people from the party room next door to let us plug in to their system until the situation could be resolved. Before the cake could be cut, a rowdy wedding guest bumped into it, ruining the front of the cake. I swiftly turned it around and used my cake decorating skills to pipe buttercream flowers to cover up the flaws. Did I mention the table of guests who showed up without RSVPing? Yes, they were taken care of too.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? I truly care about my clients and I think it shows. Following the mantra of “my clients are like family” I attribute any success I may have to it. Every project – extravagant or simply intimate – is treated with the same attention-to-detail and enthusiastic consideration. Nothing gives me more joy than turning one’s vision into their reality.
Photo: Nikko Photography
Trevor Frankfort of Trevents
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted a name that would be fun, different and that represented me. My mom actually came up with the name of my company. She suggested Trevents. Get it? My name is Trevor. I plan events. Trevents. Moms are the best.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A back up dancer for Madonna.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I started off planning movie themed events for a movie theatre chain in Toronto. After that I worked on the largest consumer home show in North America. I have also worked as an Operations Manager for a General Contracting company and planned parties for clubs in Downtown Toronto. But it wasn’t until I volunteered to plan one of my friends’ weddings that I truly felt fulfilled at “work”; this led me to get certified by the WPIC. Being a part of an event that holds such a special place in a couple’s life is such an honor.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? The skills that I used when I was an operations manager are very similar to what I have been able to use while planning events. I was managing projects with very large budgets; complicated timelines and I created tight schedules that involved many vendors. Being a planner I get to marry (see what I did there) all of these business skills with one of my other passions…creativity. The general contractor was my brother so I know how to deal with difficult situations involving family members, similar to the ones that come up with couples and their families while planning a wedding. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue around loved ones.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Me. I’m the only company that has me. When we meet you’ll notice that we will (hopefully) become instant friends and you’ll feel like your best friend is planning your wedding with you. If we don’t get that feeling at our initial meeting then we weren’t meant to be.
Sandy Gaidola of Sandola & Co
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted something personal that resonated with me. I had this name before as my first e-mail address, then it caught on with some friends of mine; some of them started calling me Sandola because it was a mix of my first and last name and it just stuck. So I decided to keep it that way. Plus it’s a great moniker for business as well. Just like a celebrity, they usually have a stage name other than their original name.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? In my early years of life (around 5 or 6 years old), I had wanted to be an artist; then as I got older, a figure skater and athlete. When I reached my teen years, it was a model. Then into early adulthood, I wanted to get into acting. As you can see, the overall theme here is the arts!
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I attended Sheridan College for a 2 year program in Visual Merchandising Arts. I loved it because it gave me a chance to experience the arts and business together. Then I had worked in retail after that for a number of years as a Visual Merchandiser, Product Manager and sales associate. In between those years, I had also started to build my portfolio because I wanted to get into Wardrobe Styling by getting into a talent agency. And at that point, I wanted to work for myself. Then in 2009, I had changed direction by wanting to work in events and how much fun it would be to host and create them. So then I had worked towards that by starting my own company in 2010.
What skills do you have that made you a better planner? Being able to make quick decisions when plans have gone awry.
I have had this happen before where I had to decide whether to bring the guests into the house or have them outside for the cocktail reception after the ceremony. The plan was to have all guests mingle outside for cocktails in the backyard as the ceremony was outdoors under the couple’s pergola. That day the weather was so unpredictable. One moment it was sunny, the next moment it was cloudy, then it poured like crazy; which the ceremony had to halt for a moment before the rain stopped. At that point, when it seemed ok to have the guests outside, the rain came back in spurts. So I immediately made the decision to tell the wait staff to just stay inside and ensure the food was all prepped and ready to serve once the guests came in. I just knew that having it outside would not work. Because no one wants to be wet and trying to enjoy their food. It ended up being a success after all. Moral of the story: always go with your gut feeling on what to do, even if the plans go awry.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? We are a fun and energetic company who loves working with those who have ‘out of the box’ ideas. We love working with all kinds of people who just love to have fun – because that’s what events are about! Of course we love all pretty things too because what’s an event without all the pizazz!?
Photo: Adam Jantos
Why did you choose your business name? My business name is based on my lovely children’s names Ali, Saarah and Haanah. My children are my inspiration. Hence, I felt that there is no better name than to name my business based on my inspiration.What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a doctor because I absolutely loved helping people in any way I could. Plus, I loved science and medicine. However, personal circumstances arose that made me change my plans. I went to business school and have been in business ever since.
Schooling and work experience that led you to wedding planning? My schooling was in business program which involved being very organized, articulate, sharp on my toes and always presentable. This led to many opportunities to organize events such as fund raising events, sports events, formal galas etc. which made it obvious that I was excellent at putting events together. It reinforced my confidence and decision to do something with event planning.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? The skills that I believe have made me a great planner are being extremely organized, dynamic thinking vis a vis events, my negotiating skills and my love for everything fine and beautiful. I’ll give you a real life example of a wedding that I was organizing in Florida. The couple loved the venue but it was out of their budget given the total cost of the event. I was able to negotiate with the venue and was able to deliver the couple their choice of venue, beautiful decor and setting all within their budget. Furthermore, it was executed flawlessly, every step of the way. We had diagrams, flow charts of people’s movement from one area of the outdoor reception to the other different areas of the reception.
What makes my business stand out from the crowd? My ability to make things happen albeit under reasonable circumstances with elegance and class, executed meticulously.
Nicole Schell of Breathless Moments
Why did you choose your business name? My mom actually came up with it. She knew that I’ve always loved events because there are moments at every event that make the event memorable. She said that I should call my business Breathless Moments, and it stuck.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? From a very young age, I wanted to be an artist. Any kind of artist, but I preferred painting. I also thought about teaching (even just teaching art) because my dad is a teacher.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I originally took design, and then went into exhibit design. That got me interested in special events because of the set up that is required for them. From there, I decided to take Special Event Management, which landed me an assistant event planner position at a children’s birthday party place. After working there for a few years, I enrolled at WPIC because I wanted to broaden my horizon. That is how I fell in love with wedding planning.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I have always been really good at thinking on my feet. As a planner, that has definitely helped because things are always coming up that need to be dealt with. I am also very artistic so I can easily visualize my clients’ ideas and I am able to describe new ideas to them as well.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My brand is what makes my business stand out from the crowd. It is based around weddings that aren’t quite as traditional. I encourage my clients to step out of the norm and add their personality to it.
Photo: Elements Photography
Tajrean Kashem of T&R Events
Why did you choose your business name? I wanted my business name to include my name in it as I was heading in the direction of creating my own brand and it made sense to include my name. When I launched my business in 2014, it was known as Tajrean Kashem Events (TK Events). In 2015, I added a Business Partner and the name change process was a little difficult as I was extremely attached to ‘TK Events’. However, I knew it had to be changed as there is another person involved in the business. As I still wanted to incorporate my name, we brainstormed different ideas. His name is Raj, which happened to rhymed with the beginning of my name – Taj. Taj defines Crown in Hindi and Raj defines King in Hindi. Both were key elements of Royalty and it signified how we wanted to treat our clients; The Royal Treatment.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a High School teacher till Grade 12. After first university, I wanted to become a leader but was unsure which industry to use my skills in.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I was extremely social and heavily active in extra-curricular activities all throughout high school and university. As I was growing my network, I became the ‘go-to’ person when family and friends were looking for vendors for their birthdays, baby showers, and anniversaries. ‘Planning’ came to me naturally by the time I enrolled in University. I joined student clubs and produced many events every year. By 3rd year university (2012), I decided to volunteer at South Asian Wedding Planning companies and completely fell in love with every aspect of it. I still remember texting my friend to tell him how much I was enjoying the wedding planning and coordination process – I couldn’t stop smiling! That was the moment I realized Wedding Planning is for me. After volunteering and interning with other companies for 2 years, I launched my business in 2014. After 7 years of hands on event planning/coordination experience through various non-profit organizations, highschool, university clubs, family events & 4 wedding planning companies (including my own), I wanted to enhance my knowledge in the wedding industry by completing the WPIC Certification course in 2015. I have also taken the Project Management Certificate program at UofT.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I don’t want to put other planners down by saying “I’m better” as every planner is amazing in his/her own way and each bride/groom needs someone that is compatible with them. Every planner has a special talent another planner may not have. I would like to say that I am strategic and resourceful. Strategic because when a problem rises, I follow these steps: Define the problem, Generate different options, evaluate each option thoroughly and select the most effective and efficient alternative and lastly, implement the solution calmly. I am also quite resourceful and always have a phone number to call in any given situation. I had to use both of these skills at a client’s engagement last summer. I was hired as a Day of Coordinator. The decor company left without completing their setup because the Creative Director of this company was ‘tired and didn’t feel like it’. They forgot to bring the stage linen, didn’t provide enough centerpiece vases, left the vases empty and didn’t bring floating candles. There was an hour and a half till guests arrived and I had a couple of things to set up at that time. I quickly finished my tasks, found a cart in the kitchen and loaded the centrepieces. I sent my assistant to pick up vases from my house ( Markham) from the venue (Mississauga), called a decor company who I have an amazing relationship with and asked her to drop off a few linens for the stage, and went to my car for floating candles as I always carry extras. We had 4 arms, 4 legs and definitely made great use of them by setting everything up before the couple arrived.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? It isn’t just business for me. I enjoy developing long last relationships with each client. I gain their trust with my hard work and dedication, but also in the most unconventional ways. I genuinely care about my clients and will do extra things to make them happy, whether it’s taking a box of their favourite donuts or having a bonding session to talk about family, friends, and non-wedding related topics!
Having a male partner also makes us stand out from the crowd as he focuses on the groom’s needs and wants while I focus on the bride’s needs and wants. It’s always a lot more comfortable and easier to speak to someone of your own gender!
Catherine Gorrie of Studio C Design
Why did you choose your business name? As my business deals with both wedding design and planning as well as interior decorating I wanted my business name to reflect those two business streams. The name itself comes from “C” for my first name; “Studio” because I love working in my studio to research and create inspirational and unique designs, and well-thought-out plans; “Design” because this is fundamental to what I deliver – exquisitely designed weddings and interiors.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? I guess my flair for design started early as I wanted to be a fashion designer growing up. I spent many hours designing clothes and looks and then actually sewing them! – I have always loved design elements in all things, nature, paintings, architecture, clothing, weddings to interiors. It is all ART to me!
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? I came to be a wedding planner after working as a design consultant for many years and recently running my own interior decorating business. I am a certified interior decorator and have formal training from the University of Alberta where I graduated with distinction from the residential interiors program. I have always loved weddings and felt wedding planning was a natural fit with my design background. To this end I have launched a career in wedding planning and have acquired WPIC and Event Planning certification.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I believe one of the skills that I have that makes me a better wedding designer / planner is the ability to listen to my clients, and work collaboratively with them to develop their ideas into a unified vision. I am a respected, approachable and people-oriented individual that excels at communicating with my clients, building relationships and providing excellent customer service. I am a creative and self-motivated professional with over 12 years of experience in planning, designing, creating and coordinating elegant events. I utilize my design experience and training to create beautifully designed and planned weddings. Through superb organization, excellent problem solving and paying attention to every detail, I work collaboratively with my clients and vendors to deliver exceptional service and well organized events.
A good example of where these skills were required was a Destination Wedding I planned and coordinated at the Chateau Lake Louise for 200 guests. The bride was a very busy professional who had a general idea of what the couple wanted and after a short meeting and follow up discussions I created and delivered the theme and ambience they were looking for. I looked after every detail from the design concept, décor, vendor sourcing, event plan and coordination. I even helped the groom select his apparel. It was a grand wedding which required planning and coordination for four separate events over three days. I managed the venue staff, coordinated 22 different vendors, transformed the Victoria Room from an intimate ceremony setting to a lavish reception in under 2 hours (no small feat) and ensured everything went off without a hitch, all the while working around the schedule of the couples’ baby! It was extremely rewarding to see the clients, their families and attendees enjoying the ambiance of the room and appreciating all the unique and special touches.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? My business is different, as I am able to utilize my design training and experience to bring a customized approach to wedding planning and design. I ensure the couples personal style and tastes are reflected in their vision for the day. Through on going consultation with the couple we work to create a cohesive theme that is carried throughout the carefully crafted plans, décor and overall feel of the wedding. I pride myself on delivering weddings that capture ‘their story’. I am passionate about what I do and bring this to everything I design and treat every wedding as if it were my own. It’s extremely important to me that the couple realizes their dream wedding and I strive to exceed their expectations. Seeing months of hard work come together on a perfect wedding day and making the couples experience enjoyable and memorable is the most rewarding thing for me.
Photo: Rodrigo Moreno
Roxy Zapala of Art of Celebrations
Why did you choose your business name? When choosing a business name, I wanted it to be something that reflected my passion and approach on the industry. I believe celebrations should be artistically approached and it is not only about the management, but creating art. We feel that life should be celebrated and Art of Celebrations really reflects the beauty in making art out of every occasion.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? When I was growing up I always wanted to be an actress.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? Growing up, my parents owned a flower shop. After gaining years of floral experience in the shop, I decided to go to school for interior design. Combining my floral experience and passion for design, I began planning weddings and events for clients, which naturally progressed into opening my own event planning business.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? I have exceptional creativity and an eye for design. I have a passion for all things beautiful and believe in making lasting impressions with floral and event designs. My design skills have helped me immensely when planning events and working with clients. Being able to create a vision and design of an event beforehand is an extremely valuable skill. I love being able to take a venue or space and transform it into something incredible.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? What truly sets Art of Celebrations apart is our unique design service where clients have the luxury of viewing their event before it takes place through our life-like 3D renderings. We combine our knowledge of interior design with floral artistry, modern aesthetic and incredible attention to detail in order to produce unparalleled events. Each function planned and orchestrated by our company is highly customized and reflective of our clients’ personalities and essence.
Rikki Marcone of Rikki Marcone Events
Why did you choose your business name? I chose to name the business after myself because I want each wedding I touch to be a representation of my skill and devotion. I wouldn’t put my name on something if I wasn’t putting my heart and soul into it.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? When I grew up, I wanted to be a doctor, mainly because I liked the idea of helping people. Then, as a got older, I realized that science and 30 lb textbooks weren’t really my cup of tea. I started helping out at various events during my teen years and was a part of my high school prom committee where we executed a extravagant Bollywood themed soiree. That’s when I discovered my passion for event planning, but not just any event planning, I wanted to be a wedding planner, likely because I couldn’t stop fanaticizing about my own wedding.
Schooling or work experience that led you to wedding planning? After my exciting prom committee experience, I started my wedding planning career by volunteering with a few established wedding planners to gain experience and learn some tricks of the trade. I graduated Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism Management and minor in Human Resources. This gave me the fundamental knowledge of business management to apply to my own venture. A few years later, I was certified by the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada and had the opportunity to meet many likeminded and supportive individuals. My second passion, travel, led me to take WPIC’s destination wedding certification course as well. I hope one day to plan destination weddings in Europe, namely in the south of France and the Amalfi coast.
What skills do you have that have made you a better planner? A wedding planner needs to play many roles, no doubt about that. We have to be therapists, financial advisors, handymen/women, writers, public relations experts, etc. There is no “one size fits all” in this industry. Although we are all crazy, Type A, neurotic organizers, it’s important as a wedding planner to know when to take a backseat to certain things. We aren’t chefs, DJs, photographers or officiates (well, most of us). One skill I had to learn was how to let someone do their job without interjection or suggestion. After all, everyone is an expert at their own trade, as much as we like to think we know everything. Also, we have to be creative. Nobody is interested in having a cookie cutter wedding. Brides and grooms turn to you as an expert for suggestions to make their wedding stand out. It’s important to truly understand your client and come up with interesting and crowd-pleasing ways to make their personalities shine through. Most importantly, a wedding planner needs to be patient, courteous and able to flip a bad situation into a good one. I once had an experience at a wedding where the mother of the groom had a fit at her son’s wedding because she wasn’t happy with what her son and daughter-in-law planned. She was not involved in the planning much and was expecting a more traditional wedding. She made a scene during the reception and upset not only her son and daughter-in-law, but even her own husband. My main concern was protecting the bride and groom and I was determined to NOT let this ruin their day. My team and I did a great job of taking the bride and groom’s minds off the disgruntle parent and shifting their focus to all the people that were having a great time instead. The mother was also spoken to and she remained calm for the rest of the evening. The issue was dealt with swiftly and with kindness, resulting in the majority of guests not even being aware that the conflict occurred.
What makes your business stand out from the crowd? Being a hopeless romantic at heart, I always appreciated the significance of one’s wedding day in the grand scheme of their life. I want to be the person who takes a vision and turns it into a reality. There is nothing more rewarding to me than seeing a happy couple enjoy their wedding day with all the most important people in their lives. It’s humbling to witness such immense love shared by family and friends on a couple’s big day. I think what makes me stand out is my appreciation of true love. As much as your wedding day is about hiring the right florist, caterer or having the best band your money can buy, it’s truly about celebrating finding the one person you will share all your tomorrows with, all your ups and downs, victories and failures. Years after your wedding, you won’t remember the linens you selected or the flavour of your cake. You’re going to remember the way you felt on your wedding day – the warmth of your family and friends, and seeing that one person standing opposite to you at the alter. It is my job to ensure those memories are beautiful ones, leave the details to me. I believe in selling myself as a brand. I want clients to buy my personality and feel like they have gained a friend, not just another vendor. I feel strongly about knowing clients on a personal level to build a trusting relationship – hopefully, one that will last for years to come. As my father always said, life is about enjoying yourself, so why not surround yourself with people doing just that. And THAT is how wedding planning chose me.