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How to refuse clients gracefully

letterpress sorry

by Danielle Andrews Sunkel

We’ve all been there. You get a phone call from a potential client, you have a great conversation, you’re completely on the same page, you book an Intial Meeting and then you meet the fiance and BAM! you know this client is not for you.

Or maybe they have a completely different sense of style or want a type of wedding you are not comfortable working on. Do you ignore the warning signs or are you brave enough to let these clients go?

There are many reasons you may need to refuse clients. The beauty of owning your own business is that you get to CHOOSE your clients. A bad client can be toxic to your business and your personal life. They drain your time and mental energy. If you see the signs of an energy-sucker or drama queen, it is best to refuse the wedding. Working on a wedding that you wouldn’t be proud to put your name on can hurt your brand, is not worth the paycheck, and you may not give the client the attention to detail they deserve. The wrong clients take you away from other clients and opportunities.

Unfortunately, saying no can be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.

How to say “No” gracefully:

  • Put it on Yourself-  “This type of wedding is not in my area of expertise.  Someone else would be a better fit to give you the wedding you deserve.”
  • Be Thankful- Thank them for considering you.
  • Express Regret-  “I wish this could have worked.”
  • Be Clear & Concise-  Don’t beat around the bush or waste their time.  If you know you do not want to work with this couple, let them know as soon as possible so they can find someone who is right for them.
  • Be Polite & Professional- People do not like being told no, even if they get rude, stay polite and professional, you don’t want them writing a bad review about your lack of professionalism.
  • Suggest an Alternative- If the clients are not a nightmare, suggest another planner from your network who may be a better fit.
  • Part on Good Terms- Wish them well and the best of luck.

Have you ever refused a client?  How did you handle it?


25 Creative Marriage Proposals

By guest blogger: Pro Flowers

We were approached by Ashley Thompson of Pro Flowers to view the blog, and we were smitten.  Such a creative blog and of course, we had to share it!

25 Creative Marriage Proposals

creative marriage
Who doesn’t love a good marriage proposal? Silly, sweet or sentimental, this is the moment that will immortalize your love. It’s the story you will tell every time you announce the engagement to friends or family. It’s the moment you will remember fondly at every anniversary for the rest of your lives.Of course, you don’t have to be planning a proposal to indulge in an afternoon of heart-warming, real-life romance videos. Sit back and enjoy these 25 creative marriage proposals and celebrate all the crazy things we do for love.

Please click on title to view videos.

1. The Sidewalk Chalk Path

Proving it must have been love at first sight, this man saved every text message he and his girlfriend sent to each other for three years. He used those messages to create a path telling the story of their love and leading straight to him. In the end, she filled in the last message by writing “yes” on the sidewalk.

2. The Crossword Puzzle

For the puzzle-lover in his life, he spent months concocting a special creation in The Washington Post. As she neared the end of the crossword, the clue to 51-across – words with a special ring to it – revealed the final answer. No way Sudoko can match that.

3. The Scavenger Hunt

Elaborately planned, this boyfriend made sure every minute detail was set up perfectly. He sent his girlfriend all over the city before finally ending the hunt where they first met. Her incredible birthday only got better when he proposed in front of the romantic backdrop of a Texas sunset.

4. The Fake Movie Scene
This romantic filmmaker solicits his girlfriend’s help for “a scene” in his short film. She’s a good sport who agrees to be blindfolded while dancing with her onscreen partner. The surprise comes when he announces his love at the end of the dance, and she takes off the blindfold to see her boyfriend on bended knee.

5. Painted Signs
This potential groom recruited a trio of artistic friends for a proposal that paints a picture of a future life filled with joy and color. Who could say no to that? While on what she thought was a normal, albeit romantic, date to a painting party, she was delightfully surprised to realize his true intentions. Nothing compares to the oohs and ahs of the crowd to create a moment she’ll never forget.

6. The Movie Trailer

Romance, action, adventure and a small popcorn. This guy gave it his creative all when it came to asking the question. The movie trailer builds suspense as he asks for her father’s blessing and rushes to the theater, before appearing in real life to the complete surprise of his girlfriend.

7. Falling Off a Building
Why be tender when you can be terrifying? When her boyfriend falls off a building mid-proposal, this young woman goes from surprised, to horrified, to relieved, all in the span of about three seconds.

8. Peter Pan Sweeps Wendy Off Her Feet
To love would be a great adventure. He is an actor who used to play Peter Pan on stage, and she is a costume designer; neither of them ever really grew up. He put away the thimble and asked for a real kiss, and to spend his life with her. “Wendy,” couldn’t have been happier.

9. The Super Mario Wall
For the gamer in his life, this man decorated a special, and pretty awesome, room to look like a level in Super Mario. He even goes so far as to place the ring on top of a Question Block normally reserved for mushrooms and extra lives. When she hits the block, the ring falls perfectly to his hands so that he can proceed with the real question.

10. The Disneyland Musical
There are many women out there who don’t like the idea of being proposed to in front of a large crowd. Happily, this woman didn’t seem to mind that a dozen performers choreographed her intimate moment into a song and dance number in the middle of Disneyland’s Main Street.

11. The Scuba Divers
It always helps to have a little assistance when executing a memorable marriage proposal. Judging by her expression, this trip to the aquarium exceeded her expectations. It took a couple of seconds for her to comprehend the message on the sign, but she was all smiles when she did.

12. Spiderman to the Rescue
This would-be hero hired a couple of actors to set the scene by stealing his girlfriend’s gigantic stuffed bear. Then, as he often does, Spiderman came to her rescue. Little did she know that her savior was actually her boyfriend in disguise. After taking care of the street toughs, he proposed to her and she said yes to the cheers of the crowd.

13. The Girl Asks the Guy
In a reversal of traditional roles, the girl initiated this proposal in a romantic effort to relieve her boyfriend’s stress of coming up with a unique plan. She organized their friends to recreate memorable moments from their dating lives, and it worked beautifully. He was surprised, and, after being asked by her, still got to ask the question himself in the end.

14. Army Pushup

Few things say “I’ll take care of you forever” like the manly display of seven guys doing push-ups. Now this young Private has two things to celebrate: graduation and engagement.

15. Game Night
Hand-drawn clues can be so hard to guess! A quiet game night with friends turned into the most memorable moment of her life when her boyfriend revealed the final phrase of this Pictionary proposal.

16. Tri-Surprise
It was one surprise after another for her. After setting up a surprise birthday party, he orchestrated a fake newscast highlighting “trick gifts,” which showed video of her receiving a new car from her boyfriend last Christmas. Surprise! She had unwittingly been carrying around the engagement ring for months.

17. Breath Mints Turn Into a Ring

This unique proposal required the assistance of a street performer in Las Vegas. Using a roll of mints, a silver wire and sleight of hand, the magician presented her ring with a romantic flourish.

18. The Light-Up Office Building

Forget the office supplies, this guy used an entire office building to help him propose with a light show that spelled out, “Lisa, will you marry me?” After she said yes, the show continued with fireworks and a heart.

19. Faking an Injury

When this nurse unwraps her boyfriend’s “injured” hand, she instead discovers that he is holding an engagement ring. At least this explains why his friend is videotapingvideo taping[BH1] a visit to the Emergency Room.

20. Faking an Injury, Part Two: Soccer Style

Faking injuries really seem to be the popular way to propose. And who better to fake an injury than a soccer player? After seeing him writhing in pain with a “knee injury,” his girlfriend finally discovers the real reason he his down on one knee. Though a few of the players wondered aloud why someone would take pictures of an injury, in the end they enjoyed the surprise too.

21. The Mid-Performance Serenade
This trumpet player with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Varsity Band proves that there is still creativity in the classics. During a swinging rendition of Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby,” he runs up to his girlfriend in the stands to ask the most important question of her life: “Will you be my girl?”

22. Wakeboarding Proposal

This proposal offers an impressive display of love and athleticism. While the two are tandem wakeboarding, he manages to get down on one knee and propose to her. The two then dive into the water in celebration, and he gives her the ring once back on the boat.

23. Under the Sea
When it comes time to propose this man dives right in. We get her point of view as he unrolls the big question written on a marker buoy, with the ring attached to the end. In the spirit of true love, they sacrifice oxygen for a kiss.

24. The Boy Band Parody Proposal

It doesn’t get more creative than writing a song and making a music video especially for her. Surrounded by family and friends, his song is an homage to their love and to the boy bands she was so fond of growing up.

25. Siri Proposes For Him

Unfortunately, this link no longer exists. Since the title is 25, we have left it in.

Creative Proposals are the Most Personal

The most important thing to remember is, creativity does not mean going over the top or spending a lot of money. It means devising something special for both of you to ensure an everlasting memory.

5 Things New Wedding & Event Planners Underestimate

photo of Danielle Andrews Sunkel WPIC

by Danielle Andrews Sunkel

I am in no way trying to scare you off the wonderful world of wedding and event planning, but being a planner is not all tulle, lace and buttercream.

Here are a few things that those entering the Wedding and Event Industry do not consider or underestimate:

1. The Costs of Setting Up a Business
You need professional clothes, proper shoes, a stocked emergency kit, website, letterhead, logo, business cards, professional credentials such as your WPIC Certification ;), advertising, binders, file folders, business licenses, insurance, etc.  And that is all before you even meet a client!

The little things can really add up, I recently got three new engraved nametags for myself and my assistants, the cost was $90.

2. The Amount of Work that Goes into Just one Wedding
There is sourcing, research, meetings with your couple, meetings with the vendors, telephone calls, emails, text messages, site visits, contract reviews, licenses, tastings, rehearsals and consulting, consulting, consulting.  All this planning, research and driving around can amount to over 100-200 hours.

Busy professional plannerMeetings aren’t just talking, I am sketching, measuring, taking photos, taking pages of notes, gathering as much information as possible, then all those notes and information need to be transcribed and acted on.

Before the wedding day you are putting together all of your notes, checklists, diagrams and assembling your wedding binder/clipboard and restocking your emergency kit for a wedding which can takes hours.

On the actual wedding day, you are going to be on-site 10-14 hours, handling every detail no matter how large or how small.  And remember, that is just ONE wedding, you will be juggling at least 10 weddings at a time.  There is a reason rated Event Coordinator as the fifth most stressful job of 2014.

3. Resistance from Other Vendors
You can’t always choose the vendors you are going to work with, the couple may have already booked some services or you may be only providing Month-Of services.  In those cases, vendors may have worked with a difficult wedding planner (boo hiss!) or they have a misconception of how professional Wedding and Event Planners work.  Take it with a grain of salt, be the professional you are and don’t try to tell them how to do their job, you will earn their trust and respect quickly, if not, make a note to never work with them again ;)

4. Resentment from Family Members
Unfortunately many family members resent the presence of a Wedding Planner.  They don’t properly understand what your role is and just want to feel needed.  Be empathetic, be professional, be respectful, be diplomatic and most importantly, be confident.  If you aren’t confident those mothers or sisters will chew you up and spit you out!

5. Importance of Constant Education
If there wasn’t a need for constant education, there wouldn’t be so many conferences and courses available to Wedding & Event Professionals.  This blog wouldn’t exist.  As much as some like to pretend they do, NO ONE KNOWS EVERYTHING about the Weddings.  We can all learn from each other whether it is a new idea or a best practice.  Part of your job is constantly upgrading your education and bettering yourself through networking and learning.

successful wedding plannerLike anything worthwhile, wedding and event planning is not easy, there is a lot of stress, challenges, finessing and hard work.  It is also very rewarding and fulfilling.  You get to be creative, you know you are making people’s lives easier and better, you are a huge part of making incredible memories for the couple, you are part therapist, part friend, part advocate. You get to see a project through from conception to completion within a year.  For a multitasker who is properly prepared for this job, the rewards far outweigh the stress and it feels like the best job in the world!

Event Lighting 101: Pinspotting

Sam Flemming WPIC of Evolved Entertainment

Photo of Sam by Anat Moshkovish of

by Sam Fleming, WPICC of Evolved Entertainment

Lighting for events can be tricky, as it can color all of your well thought out plans.


Photo by (Coordianted by Fusion Events), Lighting Design by Evolved Entertainment

Certain event designers like Preston Bailey have told stories about obsessing with their client over finding the right shade of white for all the linens, chairs, floral and décor, only to have a guest comment that they loved the creamy colour of the wedding that was created on the night by the context of the warm candlelight.


Photo & Lighting by Evolved Entertainment

Pinspotting is a great way to focus the attention on each table and literally keep your guests out of the dark.

by Mirza Noormohamed of Wandering Eye

by Mirza Noormohamed of Wandering Eye, Lighting by Evolved Entertainment

It helps everyone appreciate the finest details of your event literally by shining a light on it.

by Mirza Noormohamed of Wandering Eye

by Mirza Noormohamed of Wandering Eye, Lighting by Evolved Entertainment

The pinspot is great for sending a narrow beam of warm white light onto each tablescape, floral arrangement, wedding cake, buffet, podium and of course the head table to make each thought out display and the food and drinks really shine and pop.


Event by, Lighting by Evolved Entertainment

All the best, Sam Fleming, CPDJA, WPICC
Event Designer & Music Stylist

Sam Fleming is the owner of Evolved Entertainment, a boutique event production company in Toronto, that specializes in DJ services and AV solutions for weddings, corporate and special events.

WPIC Certification Course at (AHTA) The Antigua Hotel & Tourism Association


For Immediate Release


Tracey Manailescu

WPIC Inc. (The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc.)


One More Reason to Marry in Antigua

Many couples are lured to Antigua for a destination wedding due to the island’s 365 enchanting coves and beaches. Couples now have another incentive to exchange vows on the island as 14 hotel professionals will become certified Wedding Coordinators.

The Antigua Hotel & Tourism Association (“AHTA”) recently partnered with The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (“WPIC”) to offer a wedding certification class to its members.

Of the participating hotels included staff from Curtain Bluff, Galley Bay, Blue Waters and Catamaran Hotel. WPIC’s Caribbean instructor, Sue Morris, facilitated the two-day course, at the AHTA training room where participants went through instruction on the nuances of wedding planning, inclusive of tests, group work. They are required to complete a final exam that will be proctored online before they can officially use their designation “WPICC”. On successful completion, they will join a network of over 4900 hospitality and event professionals mainly from Canada, but also including other warm weather destinations such as Bahamas, Barbados, Mexico and Jamaica. The WPIC Alumni is an active membership that allows members to exchange industry information, contacts as well as cross promote their venues and territories.

Admin Manager of the AHTA, Anthea Watkins, confirmed that the training was long overdue and that it was offered in response to the request of the AHTA membership. The next class in Antigua is expected to take place in 2015, but interested persons can attend any classes scheduled in the Caribbean at the AHTA discounted rate. Information on classes are listed on the WPIC website –

About WPIC

The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (“WPIC”) is the only in-class Wedding Coordinator’s Certification Institute in Canada. The course consists of group work, in-class lectures and Industry-related guest speakers followed by 2 weeks of home-study. Students are graded based on their in-class work, success on 3 tests and a final exam.

WPIC alumni have opened their own full and part-time businesses, or found employment with Catering Companies, Resorts, Golf and Country Clubs and Bridal salons

Alumni Association

On successful completion of the course students have access to conferences, continued learning and networking through their lifetime membership to the Alumni Association of more than 4900 Certified Wedding Coordinators.



WPIC International Certification Course in Antigua 2014

WPIC certification course on July 8th & 9th, 2014

Wedding professionals of Antigua and Barbuda:

WPIC is working with the Antigua Hotel & Tourist Association (AHTA) in July to bring you the WPIC certification course on July 8th & 9th, 2014.

Register at:



The Unsexy Side of Self-Employment

Photo by

Photo by

By Danielle Andrews Sunkel

Being self-employed is paradise.  You have no one to answer to except the clients you choose to work with, a work schedule you choose, the money you make for the company is your money, tax write-offs and breaks on everything from housing to your vehicle.  It is great to be self-employed.

successful wedding planner

Self-employed bliss

One thing most of us don’t like to think about are the securities you give up when working for yourself; Pension plans, Long and Short-term disability, Unemployment Insurance, Employee Health Plans, taxes being deducted and calculated for you, etc.  There are definitely perks to working for someone else.

To get the best of both worlds, one must pay attention to the unsexy side of self-employment: personal finances.

Often when I talk to self-employed people they mention their long-time goal of winning the lottery.  I know I will win the lottery one day, but apparently a bunch of other people think they will too.  So to all of you who probably are not going to win the lottery, what is your retirement plan?

It may seem crazy to think about retirement when you are so young,  but if you don’t start planning for it now, you will have nothing to live on later.  How are you preparing yourself and your finances for the day that you are too old to work?  You need to have enough money put aside to support you for about 20 years.  If you were working for someone else, 20-40% of your income would be deducted for taxes, pension plan, etc.  In order to plan for your future, it is time to start taking the same amount and putting it aside for the same things.

woman saving for future

Save for your future

What you need to do now:

  • Put aside 20-30% of your income for taxes, every month (assuming you choose to use those tax write-offs and breaks available to you)
  • Open an RRSP.  Now.
  • Quit paying your landlord’s mortgage, buy something. That investment will help you later on.
  • Get a Life Insurance policy.  Protect your loved ones.

Many of us can not picture working for someone else ever again.  I know someone who owned his own company for 35 years, just last month he went out of business and had to go work for someone else, at the age of 60, because he doesn’t have enough saved or put away in RRSPs to be able to retire.  This is not a situation any of us can imagine, so please take steps now to ensure you will be in control of your finances later.

retired couple

Financial freedom in retirement should be everyone’s goal

What’s in a name?

bride smelling rose in garden

A rose by any other name…

Naming your company is serious business.  It is something you need to put a lot of thought into, as your company’s name is it’s identity and rebranding is a costly, pain in the keister!  Here are some things to consider when choosing a business name.

Your business name dictates your clients
Budget, Savvy, Wise, Bargain… When you use those terms, you will attract only those clients.  That may be what you want to attract and are most comfortable with, but there will come a point when you will no longer want to work with couples who are pinching every penny and making every decision on price and if your name says budget in any way, you will not be able to break out of that mould.

High-end names like 5th Avenue, Madison, Couture…  Again, you are trapping yourself with your name choice.  If you choose a name that elicits the image of high-end, wealth and society, your brand needs to match that image.  You better be able to afford all that your name entails, because you need to market and match your business name.

Using your own name as the company name

  • You get all the glory
  • A lot easier to think of a name
  • Personal approach to business
  • You are the brand


  • You are the brand
  • You can never sell your successful business unless you can stand the thought of someone potentially ruining your name
  • Clients will only ever want to work with you, not your associates, after all, they are paying for your name.
Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

Say what you mean and mean what you say
The whole point of naming your business, is to have it recognized.  Use terms, words and spellings that are easy for clients to find.  Using a “Z” instead of an “S” or other non-traditional spellings, makes it hard for your potential clients to find you if they have never seen your company name written.

While it may sound cool or refined, using another language in your business name can also make it difficult for your potential clients to find you or even remember your name, if it is a term they are not familiar with.

I prefer to stick with the “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach. Name your business something easy and clear, then follow up that name with a great tag line. Tag lines don’t need to be registered and can be changed whenever you like.

Photo by

Photo by

Danielle Andrews Sunkel is Co-Founder of WPIC Inc.

Keeping Afloat in the Wedding Industry (When You Feel Like You Are Drowning)

By: Tracey Manailescu


It is hard to stand out  in the wedding industry whether you are a wedding planner, photographer, designer, cake decorator, venue, wedding salon, tuxedo store, makeup artist, DJ, band, etc.

The same can be argued for any industry though. Just think about real estate agents, stock brokers, lawyers, models, doctors, police, nurses, actors, etc.

No matter what field you are in, there is competition and always someone who knows more, has more experience, and has more talent. Stop worrying about what your competitors are doing all of the time, and do what feels right for you.

Networking, attending conferences, attending open houses to see what new products or services vendors have to offer, spending money on targeted ads (print or online), a professionally made website, upgraded business cards, a booth at a wedding show, sponsoring your services, better SEO presence, etc. can all help get you on the right track.  When you invest in yourself and your company, you can’t help but grow as a person, and as a business owner.

However, if you did all of the above you would run out of time, funds and your sanity very quickly. You just can’t do it all!

What to do?

  • Pick a few things that resonate with you. It needs to be things that are key to making you feel better about yourself, your image, your passion and what your message to the wedding world is clearly all about.
  • Be open to change.
  • Update and upgrade your skills.
  • Be clear and concise with your branding.
  • Target the market that you fit into.
  • Stop feeling guilty.
  • Keep educated and informed.
  • Spend your money wisely.
  • Keep track of your expenses.
  • Attend industry events & conferences that actually relate to what you are in need of learning or reaffirming.
  • Take a step back, and take a deep look into your business from an outside perspective.
  • Survey your couples, industry friends, WPIC alumni, and family. Ask for feedback about what you could have done better, find out what they think that you did (or do well) and make the appropriate changes where you see fit.
  • Keep your personal life and home happy. Stay healthy, join a gym, get walking, eat better. Go shopping for new clothes or shoes, get a new and fresh haircut, play with your kids, go on a weekly or monthly date night with your better half. Learn to do something you have always wanted to do like painting, cooking classes, learn a language, go dancing, etc.  Strive to be happier, and you will be!

On a personal business note:

We, at WPIC have really looked into what our graduates and industry friends are asking for, based on feedback from surveys, and conversations. We  looked long and hard at where our money goes, and where we advertise this year. We have had to say no to some amazing opportunities and experiences, because it just doesn’t fit into our vision. We looked at our Google analytics, read our class surveys,  and made an informed decision about letting some of our staff and ads go that are no longer working for us. Yes, it has left some hard feelings, but in the end, this is what is best for us, and WPIC at this time.

We feel good about our decisions and look forward to seeing some of our ideas take shape and grow.

Enough of the “Charge What You’re Worth” Campaign

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by Danielle Andrews Sunkel

Every conference I go to, every article I read, someone is saying, “Charge what you are worth!”  I hate to break it to you, they are just telling you what you want to hear and hoping to sell you on whatever they are pitching ( just look at their own pricing).

Your pricing needs to reflect your education, experience, level of expertise and drum roll… your market. It’s all well and good for someone to tell you to charge more money for your services, but if clients are not willing to pay that price, you are going to have to close your business pretty fast.

I have been a professional, certified wedding planner for almost 15 years, I train other wedding planners, both independent and at resorts. I am constantly learning and attend at least 10 conferences a year, I speak at half of those conferences and I have been quoted in magazines, newspapers, the radio and on television around the world. All a potential client has to do is Google my name, but when it comes time to pay for all that experience, the client couldn’t care less. I may think I’m worth my weight in diamonds, but “charging what I’m worth” just isn’t going to fly.

Even the most famous wedding planners can not charge what they are worth. Think about it, they have alternate means of making money, through endorsing product lines, partnering with resorts, paid speaking engagements, hosting television shows, etc.  If they can’t charge clients more than what the market allows, how can you?

How should you determine your pricing? Take a look at your finances; how much do you need to make in order to live comfortably, attend a couple conferences to stay educated, pay for marketing and all the overhead of running a business in a year? Once you know how much money you need to make, look at how many clients you can comfortably work with in a year. Investigate what the average rate planners of your calibre charge. That will give you a good idea of how much you need to charge and what your market will support.  By all means, go a little above the market average, but as wedding planners we know we are worth our weight in gold, unfortunately, you won’t be paid that way.