Each week we will be sharing a look into our amazing WPIC instructors’ lives, so you can get to know them better.
This week we are introducing WPIC Instructor, Monica Caesar of Aisle Plan Your Day
Monica Caesar is the owner & founder of Aisle Plan Your Day, an award-winning, boutique wedding planning company based in Edmonton, Alberta, that specializes in producing epic destination wedding experiences around the globe. Monica is a full time, certified destination wedding planner and focuses on the Caribbean and Mexico. Touted as one of Canada’s leading destination wedding experts, Monica has positioned herself as a destination wedding expert, industry speaker and trainer. Monica has been an instructor for WPIC since 2009 and trains wedding planners across Canada and throughout the Caribbean & Mexico.
How long have you worked at WPIC Inc?
I have been working as an instructor for WPIC since 2009, this will be my 11th year working as an instructor for WPIC.
What void do you fill in the industry, or what is your specialty?
I am a fulltime destination wedding planner specializing in off-resort, private weddings across Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.
What has been your biggest challenge in the wedding industry thus far?
Travel restrictions and the falling Canadian dollar are certainly two of the biggest challenges I have faced in the destination wedding industry as these factors affect the overall success of my business. For example, Zika created fear of travel for my wedding couples and their groups and now with the Covid-19 pandemic, this is changing the outlook of travelling for the destination wedding industry until a vaccine is in place. I am hopeful and optimistic however that we will continue to see growth in destination weddings with more couples wanting to plan smaller and more intimate celebrations, while also being able to have that opportunity to spend quality time with their family and friends after extended periods of quarantine.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
I think there is progression in this answer… When I first started out, booking my first wedding was my biggest accomplishment. Then being able to transition into doing this full time was the most exciting milestone of my career. As my business grew, so did my experience and knowledge in destination weddings; and being able to speak at conferences around the world and share my passion and knowledge about the industry is something I am very proud of. Recently I just won the “Destination Wedding Planner of the Year” at the WPIC awards, and this achievement for me is certainly an accomplishment I am very proud of. Its really hard to pinpoint my “greatest accomplishment” persay, as each year I set new goals, and in my opinion… success looks different on everyone, depending on what your hopes are in achieving the goals you set forth for yourself.
What do you wish that you did differently when starting out?
I wish I had taken more time to fully understood the financial responsibilities of running a business and the importance of hiring a proper accountant from day one.
How do you want to be remembered in the wedding industry after you retire?
I want to be remembered as a planner that was a cheerleader for others in the industry. A planner that truly believed in collaboration, and that working as a team not only benefited our business but our couples as well. I want to be remembered for advocating to support the local vendors in all of the destinations that I worked at, to help support the local economy by hiring local vendors and venues, beyond the big chain hotels and travel suppliers. I want to be remembered as the planner that loved her clients and her vendors and turned them into friends. Someone that maintained a positive and upbeat attitude.
What were you planning to do as a career before getting into the wedding industry?
I originally planned to become a teacher. I have such a passion for teaching and sharing my knowledge; and essentially; I got the best of both worlds; since I now work as a full time destination wedding planner and have been an instructor with WPIC for 10 years.
How did you get into the wedding industry?
I was certified by WPIC in 2006 and started my career doing local wedding planning in Edmonton. After only a couple of years doing local weddings, I knew that local weddings weren’t for me and that I wanted to expand into destination weddings. By 2010, I went fulltime into destination weddings, first focusing on wedding planning on resorts for my couples, and within two years of doing resort weddings, I knew I wanted to expand my services to the everyday couple in being able to better personalize their wedding day with less restrictions, which is what lead me into specializing in doing private, off-resort weddings.
Advice for those just starting out & advice for those struggling to get business
Don’t expect success to happen overnight and remember that success looks different for everyone. Building your business in the wedding industry takes time and patience. The very first step is to create a business plan and then set your short- term and long- term goals. Determine what will set you apart from your competitors, what services you want to offer and how to price your services. Develop your marketing plan, network in the industry and start to build your brand and presence within the industry. As a small business owner, it is important to know who your customers are, where they spend their time, what they are looking for and how your business can meet their needs. It is also just as important to take the time to build your vendor database so that you feel confident that the vendors you recommend to your couples provide quality services and professionalism. Who we recommend can be a direct reflection of ourselves, so I believe that the key to success in our industry is networking and finding the perfect vendors who will be an integral part of your overall success.
Advice for those who are feeling industry burnout or stress from COVID-19 in their business
I wish that I had paid more attention to self care and made this a priority during this time. In our industry, self care tends to fall on the back burner since a big part of our focus is our couples and managing their celebrations; and with the overwhelming task of postponing and rescheduling weddings; its been a hectic few months to say the least. I think its important to take a step back when things get too hectic and focus on self care. I recently shut down for an entire week and set up my email auto responder. I focused on spending time with my family, tackled the ever growing “to do” list around the house, went for walks, did some gardening, enjoyed some baking with my toddler and focused on how to alleviate some of the stress that was weighing me down. This allowed me to shift the stress I was feeling. By “turning off the work mode” and taking some time for self care and my own personal needs, it allowed myself the opportunity to refresh and address situations with a different focus. I now take every Friday-Sunday off for family time and “me-time”; and this is what keeps me motivated through the hectic weeks moving forward.
Best business tip
Invest your time into website SEO. You can have an amazing website, but if couples can’t find you online, what is the point? Searchability is so important to drive traffic to your website, which in turn creates clients. When I finally took the time to invest in my website SEO and online presence, my business skyrocketed and the road to success began.
Something that took your business to the next level
Networking was definitely a key factor in bringing my business to the next level. Networking locally and internationally was key for my growth as a destination wedding planner. Since my area of specialty is in private destination wedding celebrations, it was important to network with local wedding planners, local wedding vendors and venues in the various destinations to build my network of quality and reliable professionals to help grow my business.