Photo Courtesy of: Andy King Photography
by Kim Choy, WPIC Inc.
Claudia Kent knew she wanted to be a wedding coordinator after she helped to plan her mother-in-law’s second wedding. After the wedding was over and she no longer had vendors to call, or decor meetings to attend she had “wedding remorse” and needed to do another! Soon after, a family friend was looking for help planning her wedding and Claudia couldn’t be more thrilled to be the woman for the job! Claudia has always had an eye for detail and enjoyed making a simple dinner party an exquisite event.
“I always loved entertaining, setting a beautiful table for guests.“
Claudia became a certified wedding coordinator through The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (www.wpic.ca) in November 2007 after a family member clipped out a Toronto Star article. She registered for the course the next day! Claudia wanted to be a part of WPIC because she wanted the ongoing support of fellow planners and because attending conferences and seminars to stay current was important to her.
Some of her role models include coordinators she has had the privilege to work with, WPIC colleagues, her amazing assistants and well-known coordinators in the industry. Last year at the 5th Annual Wedding Professionals Conference in Turks and Caicos, Claudia had the privilege to meet Sasha Souza of Sasha Souza Events. Claudia loves how genuine, spunky and efficient Sasha is. This year at the 6th Annual Professional Wedding Planners Conference in the Bahamas, Claudia will have the chance to meet with her other influential planner Mary Dann. Along with these coordinators, Claudia wouldn’t be where she is today without Tracey Manailescu and Danielle Andrews-Sunkel from WPIC Inc.
After gaining enough experience and knowing this is what she wanted, Bridal Path Weddings was born. It took her two years to come up with the name she absolutely loved. She says, “my approach to the bride in my capacity is assisting the planning path and enjoying that journey.” Claudia tells me at every wedding we work together that her favourite part is “sending the bride down the aisle. I cry every time, just like my mom!”
Claudia used every type of free marketing she could in the beginning just to get her name out there and known. Her website was created and ran by her; she used perforated business cards and went to wedding shows introducing herself to vendors. Claudia constantly made contacts by networking with people, attending events and visiting venues to meet with the coordinators.
“If you can do it for the love of it, then it’s a good job match.“
The best part of her job is the initial meetings. “Clients are bursting with ideas, and 95% of the time I’m right there with them going down that path and feeling their vision.” When asked, Claudia had a hard time choosing just one couple as her favourite, but besides her daughter’s wedding she chose Elisha and Marshall who got married May 2008. Elisha won Claudia in a draw, “it never even dawned on me that I wasn’t getting paid throughout the year we planned. If you can do it for the love of it, then it’s a good job match.”
After working full-time and running Bridal Path Weddings part-time on evenings and weekends, Claudia decided to take the plunge and retire from her career and take on Bridal Path Weddings full time. “It was exhaustive. I worked all day and spent evenings and weekends in my wedding room. I look back now and wonder how I did it”, Claudia says of her recent switch. “I was firmly in the industry with my company and Nestleton Waters Inn, so I was relieved, happy and elated.” In addition to owning and running Bridal Path Weddings, Claudia is also the in-house wedding coordinator for Nestleton Waters Inn.
“If you believe in it, it will happen for you!“
Advice to New Grads and Others Making the Switch from Part Time to Full Time
- Decide what your niche is and put your attention there. Get a job in the industry; you need income to finance your “wedding items”, i.e., emergency kit, cards, website, gas, car, company name, cell phone, great clothes, shoes & of course your pearls!
- Buddy up with someone, do a bridal show!
- Set goals every week for how you are moving with your business strategy and how you’re improving yourself. Don’t sit and wait for it – go out and do something!
- Make your own volunteer opportunities – it doesn’t come to you, you have to go out and get it!
- Find assistants who you love to work with and trust your business with – some of Claudia’s favourite’s are Erin Bosak, Jennifer Maxwell, Kathy Lee, Kim Choy, Ramona Nicholson, Nancy Lee and Crystal Murray
- Keep some sort of income coming in until you are able to support yourself fully. Perhaps a job in the field related to weddings. If you believe it in, it will happen for you.
My last question to Claudia was: “How did you get to be so successful?” and her perfectly poised and humble answer was so Claudia,
“Am I? If we measure success by the number of weddings, then I suppose I am, if we measure success by the balance in the bank, then sure. I measure success by the fact that each time one of my brides goes up and down the aisle, I get a huge hug from her and a beautiful thank you in a card, their speech, and an after email.”
So yes, Claudia you are successful and every time I work a wedding with you I look up to you and love you even more. You are gracious, caring, loving, fabulous, creative and my mentor. Every time you send a bride down the aisle I feel the love and the relationship that you have with her and her new groom. You not only help to make the wedding planning process easier and fun for the bride and the groom, you also create a lasting relationship with every client that you have. Every time I work with you, I feel proud and honoured to be able to say “I’m with Claudia, the Wedding Coordinator” and to be representing Bridal Path Weddings.