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10 Tips for a Good Branding Selfie

By: Tracey Manailescu, Kaley Campbell and input from Danielle Andrews Sunkel

WPIC Office Manager Kaley Campbell and I decided that we needed a coffee fix yesterday morning. So we bundled up because it was super duper chilly, and were all ready to go when Kaley said, “Let’s grab the WPIC sign and sneak a photo” (as she always does).  Then we thought, hey let’s make it even more interesting, and bring the WPIC mugs to spice it up a bit, LOL! So that is what we did.

selfie

We were able to snap some pretty darned cute ones, as well as facing some selfie challenges along the way.  Eeek!  Thank goodness a random stranger and his pal helped us out for two of the photos! So tons of spilled coffee, odd angles and weird facial expressions later, we thought we would share some of the photos with you here.

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Selfie Tips:

  1. Hold the camera just above eye level for the most flattering view.
  2. Have natural lighting.  Outdoors is best or move by a window.
  3. Choose a background that won’t take the focus off of you.
  4. Take lots of photos so you have a variety to choose from.
  5. Take tons of different photos with various angles and lighting.
  6. Being off centre can add more interest.
  7. Get over the embarrassment of taking a selfie.  Almost everyone does them.
  8. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, because you are your brand.
  9. The more you practice the better you will get at taking selfies (ie. Making sure props are facing the camera).
  10. Photos are much more human and interesting to others when you mix them up with a personal touch.

Christmas Wonderland Inspirational Shoot

Submitted by WPIC alumni, Amanda Douglas of Amanda Douglas Events

OK, who doesn’t love Christmas? The presence, delicious food, the colours, lights, music, and of course celebrating with family and friends.

We wanted to put together a photo shoot, and tablescape, that captured some of those fun and whimsical elements of Christmas. Most people think of the traditional Christmas being lots of red and gold. We want to change it up a little bit and bring in some more unexpected colours.

Photo: Sunny S-H Photography

Photo: Sunny S-H Photography

The rich sugar plum purple, mixed with deep metallic red, and the neutral of the kraft paper really made the table pop. And of course presents, why not presents on the table? Doing this at a dinner party, and having fun grab gets in the middle of the table, would be a fun surprise for any guest to encounter.

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Of course, one of the really exciting things about Christmas is decorating the tree, so why not decorate the table with some of your extra ornaments? And there’s always the candy and sweets. So instead of the typical party favour, or place cards and menus you put something sweet at each place setting.

To make this table just a touch more chic we added accents of gold through the cutlery, decorations, and of course some of the stationary.

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

 

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Sunny S-H Photography

Vendors:

Because Christmas is one of our favourite holidays, and it should be just a little over the top, we did a fun Christmas Wonderland photo shoot.

A big thanks to all of the talented vendors that brought it all together:

Photography: Sunny S-H Photography 

Styling/Design: Amanda Douglas Events 

Hair: Hair by Randi

Floral: Oak & Lily 

Dress: Bliss Bridal Boutique 

Jewelry/Fur: Amanda Douglas Events

Location: The Gates on Roblin 

Makeup: 2 Chicks and a Bag of Makeup 

Linens/Chairs: Planned Perfectly 

New to the Wedding Industry? 6 Tips to Help When You Lack Experience

www.weddingprocourses.com

Photo: www.avenue-photo.com

By: Tracey Manailescu

In our WPIC certification classes we find such a diverse group of students.  Some are retired, some are newly married, some are fresh out of university, some are working for venues and resorts, some work for decorators, catering companies, or for other established wedding planners, some are established wedding planners already,  and some have no experience in the wedding industry, whatsoever. This blog is for you!

Beginner

Everyone needs to starts off somewhere, right? Below are some tips that should ease your mind and get you headed in the right direction.

Volunteer: The WPIC Alumni Association (which is *free to all graduates of The Wedding Planners Institute of Coordination) has a volunteer program in place to help you get more experience.  We recommend that all new grads utilize this program. This is a great chance to find out how other WPIC’ers run their wedding planning companies and work with clients. It is an opportunity to see firsthand how valuable a wedding planner is to a couple.  It is also a great chance to see what you might do differently when working with your own clients after this experience. Hopefully the planner you will be working for will provide useful tips and guidance to you during the process. It is expected that you will fulfill requested duties, and be able to think and act quickly on your own with the information and timelines provided. You must have a signed contract in place between you and the planner. You need to remember that you will be working for someone else, and therefore need to represent that planner’s company, only.  You are not there to promote yourself. We also have paid positions for those who already have experience but would like to know more about a certain culture or want to see how other planners do things.

Show That You are Interested in Learning: You need to let potential clients know that you are interested in learning more. Let them know about industry conferences that you have attended, or are going to attend. Have you attended any industry events around the city? Are you up to date on current wedding trends? Have you taken any courses that will help you in wedding planning such as business administration, book keeping, sketching, project management, floral design, wedding planning or event planning certifications? Are you a part of any industry related associations? Have you read any books that will help you have a better understanding of certain cultures and their requirements/guidelines in regards to customs and rituals for wedding ceremonies/receptions. Sometimes having a desire and passion for something can be far better than experience.

On a personal note, last year when we were looking for a new Office Manager at WPIC, our focus was not on finding someone who had wedding planning experience.  We were much more interested in finding someone who was willing to learn, who had good organizational skills, was a true people person and who could speak Spanish. We got everything we were looking for, except the part about speaking Spanish with Kaley Campbell, LOL!

positive attitude

Positive Attitude: This really should go without saying. I am saying it anyways because it is so very darned important!  Sometimes little to no experience in something can be totally dismissed or overlooked, because of a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. Clients might just get a good vibe from you (and you know that when you go with your gut it usually works out). Having a certain calmness in tricky or stressful situations, being able to see the best in people, and always looking on the bright side, along with a go get’em attitude might be just what some clients are looking for. This will come in handy when dealing with difficult family members or friends. Heck, this might just be the thing that wins them over completely!

You Connect With The Couple: Do you get along and just seem to really fit with the couple on a personal level? You are going to work harder, better, faster and more efficiently if you are trying to please someone and keep them happy. Think about it. Sometimes people are willing to take a chance on someone because of the personal connection and sense of understanding or trust that you have established. Make it a personal challenge to yourself to absolutely ROCK this wedding and be everything that they need.

Ask Questions and Get to Know More Experienced Planners: Ask for help from your peers, join Facebook groups, attend industry mixers, utilize the WPIC Alumni Boards by asking questions, searching past articles, and finding the best and newest questionnaires, contracts, check lists and organizational systems. Have a welcome package, detailed list of services and set pricing. Have policies and strategies in place in case of “What If?”

strengths

Talk up Your Strengths:   Stop focusing on your lack of experience, show your confidence and let them know what you are good at. If you keep reminding them that you are lacking experience they will automatically focus on that. Why do you think that you would be a great fit for this couple and their wedding? Are you great at working in a team environment? Can you think quickly on your feet?  Are you good at communicating your thoughts and implementing ideas? Are you a problem solver?

According to Planning Pod these are the “Top 8 Traits of Successful Planners“. The article is actually really good so you should check it out after you finish this one.  (Actually, I am a pretty big fan of their articles as there are lots of useful tips.)

1.Being prepared and planning for contingencies

2. Having passion for what you do

3. Flexibility

4. Staying level headed while under fire

5. Having a vision

6. Attention to detail

7. Ability to listen and understand your clients’ goals

8. Humility

*The WPIC Alumni Association is free to all graduates of our certification course.  It is a privilege and not a right. Membership is contingent on following the WPIC Code of Ethics

Do you have some other helpful and useful suggestions?  Please share them below.

New to the Wedding Industry? 6 Tips to Help When You Lack Experience

www.wpic.ca

Photo:
www.avenue-photo.com

By: Tracey Manailescu

In our WPIC certification classes we find such a diverse group of students.  Some are retired, some are newly married, some are fresh out of university, some are working for venues and resorts, some work for decorators, catering companies, or for other established wedding planners, some are established wedding planners already,  and some have no experience in the wedding industry, whatsoever. This blog is for you!

Beginner

Everyone needs to starts off somewhere, right? Below are some tips that should ease your mind and get you headed in the right direction.

Volunteer: The WPIC Alumni Association (which is *free to all graduates of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada) has a volunteer program in place to help you get more experience.  We recommend that all new grads utilize this program. This is a great chance to find out how other WPIC’ers run their wedding planning companies and work with clients. It is an opportunity to see firsthand how valuable a wedding planner is to a couple.  It is also a great chance to see what you might do differently when working with your own clients after this experience. Hopefully the planner you will be working for will provide useful tips and guidance to you during the process. It is expected that you will fulfill requested duties, and be able to think and act quickly on your own with the information and timelines provided. You must have a signed contract in place between you and the planner. You need to remember that you will be working for someone else, and therefore need to represent that planner’s company, only.  You are not there to promote yourself. We also have paid positions for those who already have experience but would like to know more about a certain culture or want to see how other planners do things.

Show That You are Interested in Learning: You need to let potential clients know that you are interested in learning more. Let them know about industry conferences that you have attended, or are going to attend. Have you attended any industry events around the city? Are you up to date on current wedding trends? Have you taken any courses that will help you in wedding planning such as business administration, book keeping, sketching, project management, floral design, wedding planning or event planning certifications? Are you a part of any industry related associations? Have you read any books that will help you have a better understanding of certain cultures and their requirements/guidelines in regards to customs and rituals for wedding ceremonies/receptions. Sometimes having a desire and passion for something can be far better than experience.

On a personal note, last year when we were looking for a new Office Manager at WPIC, our focus was not on finding someone who had wedding planning experience.  We were much more interested in finding someone who was willing to learn, who had good organizational skills, was a true people person and who could speak Spanish. We got everything we were looking for, except the part about speaking Spanish with Kaley Campbell, LOL!

positive attitude

Positive Attitude: This really should go without saying. I am saying it anyways because it is so very darned important!  Sometimes little to no experience in something can be totally dismissed or overlooked, because of a willingness to learn and a positive attitude. Clients might just get a good vibe from you (and you know that when you go with your gut it usually works out). Having a certain calmness in tricky or stressful situations, being able to see the best in people, and always looking on the bright side, along with a go get’em attitude might be just what some clients are looking for. This will come in handy when dealing with difficult family members or friends. Heck, this might just be the thing that wins them over completely!

You Connect With The Couple: Do you get along and just seem to really fit with the couple on a personal level? You are going to work harder, better, faster and more efficiently if you are trying to please someone and keep them happy. Think about it. Sometimes people are willing to take a chance on someone because of the personal connection and sense of understanding or trust that you have established. Make it a personal challenge to yourself to absolutely ROCK this wedding and be everything that they need.

Ask Questions and Get to Know More Experienced Planners: Ask for help from your peers, join Facebook groups, attend industry mixers, utilize the WPIC Alumni Boards by asking questions, searching past articles, and finding the best and newest questionnaires, contracts, check lists and organizational systems. Have a welcome package, detailed list of services and set pricing. Have policies and strategies in place in case of “What If?”

strengths

Talk up Your Strengths:   Stop focusing on your lack of experience, show your confidence and let them know what you are good at. If you keep reminding them that you are lacking experience they will automatically focus on that. Why do you think that you would be a great fit for this couple and their wedding? Are you great at working in a team environment? Can you think quickly on your feet?  Are you good at communicating your thoughts and implementing ideas? Are you a problem solver?

According to Planning Pod these are the “Top 8 Traits of Successful Planners“. The article is actually really good so you should check it out after you finish this one.  (Actually, I am a pretty big fan of their articles as there are lots of useful tips.)

1.Being prepared and planning for contingencies

2. Having passion for what you do

3. Flexibility

4. Staying level headed while under fire

5. Having a vision

6. Attention to detail

7. Ability to listen and understand your clients’ goals

8. Humility

*The WPIC Alumni Association is free to all graduates of our certification course.  It is a privilege and not a right. Membership is contingent on following the WPIC Code of Ethics

Do you have some other helpful and useful suggestions?  Please share them below.

WPIC’s Halton Region Social Media Seminar

Suzzette Patten

By: Suzzette Patten of Exquisite Occasions (WPIC Regional Representative for Halton/Peel)

As a regional rep for WPIC- The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada  Peel/Halton region, I am responsible for putting together professional development events/seminars for my fellow certified planners.

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As we all know things are forever changing in cyber world; so I planned a Social media seminar in which 34 Certified Wedding Planners from the GTA and surrounding areas got together with the lovely Cher Jones of Socially Active Training to learn about how Social Media plays a huge role in a Wedding planner’s life.

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Cher talked to us about how we could start or continue to build our personal brands on Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.

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While Cher was teaching us about Social Media;  The Mississauga Convention Centre was filling us up with delicious treats and beverages.

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BB Blanc (www.bbblanc.com) provided the audio and visual for this amazing seminar.

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Huge thanks to all those that attended :) Looking forward to planning many more events!

Real Wedding- Rachelle and Lane’s Farm Wedding

Ashlie Metcalf

Ashlie Metcalf, WPICC of Harmony Wedding & Event Coordination shares her experience with us of planning the very special wedding of:

Lane Kruger & Rachelle Lawlor. Wedding date: July 26th, 2015

 

“I had the honor of standing in my best friend Lane’s wedding this past July. Not only was I asked to stand on HIS side but he and his fiancé also asked me to MC and help plan their wedding.

The planning started from Australia, where they were traveling for a year and living in a van. They rarely had Internet and the time change made it difficult for us talk on the phone. Lane and Rachelle had to book everything “blindly” as they could not view the venue in person or meet the vendors, so I acted as their eyes and ears. They ended up booking the beautiful Earth to Table Farm, a venue near Hamilton, ON.

Everything happened so quickly when they returned to Ontario. There were parties to be had, vendors to be paid, appointments, fittings, cake tastings, etc. Through it all Lane and Rachelle remained calm with a “roll with it” kind of attitude.

Considering how many “hats” I wore on the wedding day, it was very relaxed. My morning started with hair and make up at the Brides house, then off to the hotel to get my daughter, the flower girl ready, and then off to another hotel for photos with the Groom before setting off to the ceremony venue to make sure everything was perfect for the arrival of the Bride.

The ceremony was simple and sweet, I had a proud Mommy moment when I saw my daughter debuting as the flower girl. O.k, I’ll be honest, I was a blubbering fool. The environment was like a family reunion. Games, cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres entertained the guests while the wedding party had their photos taken.

The reception was home to food fresh from the farm, harvest tables, succulent centerpieces and homemade preserves from Labrador City (The Brides hometown). There was a 3 tiered, 3 flavored cake {I didn’t get a chance to sample) as well as a poutine station for the late night and the grooms one and only request- a 5 tier chocolate fountain with all of the fixings.

After the speeches were over it was time to enjoy the open bar, dancing and photo booth. The emotions poured on when the Father Daughter dance and Mother Son dances happened. I don’t know what it is, but when I see the look on the face of a parent dancing with their newlywed child it just evokes raw emotion and I am not ashamed to say I cry during these dances at almost every wedding!

The end of the night was bittersweet as this would be the last time I’d get to see the newlyweds before I moved to British Columbia. I moved from Ontario to BC 3 days after Lane and Rachelle said “I do.”

It was challenging at times to juggle planning my best friend’s wedding while he and his fiancé were travelling on the other side of the world, and I was in the middle of moving my family to the other side of the country, but we got it done, and if I had to do it all again, I would.”

~Ashlie Metcalf, Harmony Wedding & Event Coordination “Planning your Life’s Events in Perfect Harmony”

Kind words from the Groom:

“Myself and my wife were trying to plan our wedding in Ontario, Canada, while we were on the other side of the world. Ashlie’s services were invaluable as she helped us source our venue and screen the vendors, all of whom were fantastic. When we returned to Canada she helped us create and stick to a timeline, ensuring things were not missed or delayed. The event itself was flawless if there were any hiccups we as the couple never heard about them which is a testament to how well Ashile did her job. We would not hesitate to recommend Ashlie’s services to anyone planning an event or wedding.”

Kind words from the Mother of the Groom:

Dear Ashlie,

Your help with Lane and Rachelle’s recent wedding, at ‘Earth to Table Farm’ near Hamilton, was invaluable.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  Your calm presence, attention to detail and persistence with following up even the smallest concerns made the day go so smoothly.  Because my son and his fiancé were out of the country when they got engaged, it was up to you to do the groundwork for them.  Thanks so very much for all you did, from checking out the possible venues and caterers and DJ’s to investigating hotel availability for out of town guests during a very busy ‘PanAm’ games weekend.  Keeping the bride and groom on track was a big challenge for you too, I’m sure, as they were busy with their return to Canada after a year away, moving, etc.  You made everything easier for them and I know they were confident that you had things under control and they didn’t need to worry about anything.  You worked well with them, however, and made sure they were involved in all the decisions.  You gave them immense peace of mind -your excellent taste was not only to our benefit but really meshed with everything the couple wanted and needed.  Everything went so well on the wedding day and I know it was because of your conscientious overview and foresight – making sure you had everyone in the right places at the right time, making sure the minister, DJ, photographers, etc. were confirmed well ahead of time and that they got their payments… Lane and Rachelle could concentrate on getting themselves ready in a relaxed and enjoyable fashion and really cherish their wedding day.  And so could their moms !!

Thanks so much, again, Ashlie – I would highly recommend you as a wedding planner to anyone who asks.

Yours gratefully,

~Lori Harms

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.Lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.Lushanabalephotography.com

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Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

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Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photo: www.lushanabalephotography.com

Photography: Lushana Bale Photography | Venue and Catering: Earth to Table Farm |  Wedding Coordination:  Harmony Wedding and Events  |  Flowers:  I Fiori  |  Wedding Gown: Mark Zunino for Kleinfeld Canada  |  Bridesmaid Dresses: Karma Koma  |  Tuxes: Michael Kors from Colin’s formalwear  |  Cake:  Picture Perfect Cakes  |  DJ: Schwartzentruber Music  |  Photobooth: E-Photobooth  |  Videographer: Chloe Belle Creative  |  Hair and Makeup: Makeup Jedi

WPIC Alumni go to Nordik Spa Nature in Ottawa

Photo: brazeauphoto.com

Photo: brazeauphoto.com

WPIC Ottawa Regional Rep, Dalal Saikali of Apropos Productions put together this fantastic get together for our Ottawa WPIC alumni. What a great summary!

Take a handful of lovely WPIC Alumni.
Mix in a top beauty expert.
Drop them all off in a corner of heaven.
What do you get? Just about the most perfect mix of education, inspiration and relaxation you can imagine.

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WPIC alumni at Nordik Spa Nature

Mother Nature really helped us out providing great weather during July’s WPIC Alumni Regional Workshop in Ottawa, which started out with a warm welcome from the professional staff at Nordik Spa Nature. Armed with notepads and bathrobes, we got an exclusive tour of the facilities with Groups & Events Coordinator, Karine Laroque-Martineau. She showed us the ins and outs of the facilities and explained the various activities and events that the Nordik can accommodate. She also let us in on some of their future plans, which will be major game changers! Stay tuned.

As part of our site visit, we had the pleasure of touring the Nordik Lodge, which you (yes, you!) can rent for a sleepover. This is no cabin in the woods, folks. It’s a fully furnished, luxurious lodge that comfortably accommodates 14 during the day, and 12 overnight. Its amenities include a private sauna, wood-burning furnace, wrap-around balcony and much more. The Alpina Lodge, a little further up the hill, also boasts a hot tub and beautiful private space where we all immediately started staging a private ceremony/cocktail area/outdoor dance floor. Kudos to Stephanie and Kiley who trudged up the mountain with wedding legs! (picture “Nordik terasse”)
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We got to experience the Nordik Lodge’s accommodations by having a makeup workshop in the boardroom/dining room, led by the talented and beautiful Melody Iafelice. Don’t let the topic mislead you. We weren’t getting our makeup done, although given Melody’s talents, that would have been a treat. Instead, she let us in on some of the secrets of the makeup artist’s world. It was incredibly helpful for us planners to get tidbits on what the ideal setup and timing is for these professionals, and to get ideas on the essential emergency kit (Melody’s Fab Five). But ultimately, those who benefit the most from this knowledge are the stars of the show: our couples. By wedding experts working together, openly and honestly, we heighten the standards of our industry. What’s good for the industry is good for me, and what’s good for me is good for the industry. Are you fed up of hearing me say that, yet? Perhaps. But it’s the truth.
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Now, I leave you with images of this incredible facility, which was conceived and continues to develop with the most admirable philosophy. Be sure to keep track of their expansion; Winnipeg boasts their first jaunt with Thermëa by Nordik Spa Nature and, as a piece of great news for our GTA Alumni, Nordik’s third project is coming to you soon.

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PS: For those of you who have been there, have you tried the Källa treatment? No? Go right now. I insist. In fact, I’ll go with you!

WPIC Planner of the Month- Laura Scott of Tula Events

Photo: Life Creations

Photo: Life Creations

This month’s WPIC “Planner of the Month” is Laura Scott of Tula Events.  We chose Laura because not only is she a wonderful wedding planner, but she is always willing to lend a hand, and offer really great advice. She is always willing to share tips, give suggestions and always does so in a professional manner. Thank you for being so wonderful, Laura!

Name of your company and why did you choose that name? Clients and vendors ask me all the time where I came up with the name Tula Events. When I started my business it was really hard coming up with a name that I loved. I wanted something that was a reflection of me but nothing too trendy. I love tulips, as they were always the first flower to pop up in my Mom’s garden in the spring. They remained my favourite flower over the years so I decided to incorporate tulips into my company name by combining it with my first name; “tu” for tulip and “la” for Laura ~ which gave me Tula Events!

Photo: When He Found Her  Photography

Photo: When He Found Her
Photography

Opened company in what year? Tula Events opened in 2005 when I was working for a restaurant putting together their catering division. Once I got certified with WPIC in 2009 my focus shifted to wedding planning.

WPIC since? I was certified in 2009 in Edmonton Alberta, as I was living in beautiful Calgary at the time. Best decision I ever made!

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Favourite part of the planning process? I love putting together inspiration boards for my clients and coming up with unique ideas that represent them as a couple but also as individuals. Starting the inspiration board really does make the whole process exciting for my clients and for me. Its my favourite part of the planning process because its the whole foundation of the wedding.

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Please tell us some things you have learned over the years that have helped you grow? I would say networking is what has helped me grow over the years. I have grown because of the relationships that I have made with amazing vendors around the Greater Toronto Area. I have had caterers refer me to clients, I’ve been hired by vendors in the industry to plan/coordinate their own weddings and I’ve had vendors refer me to their friends who are getting married as well. What I have learned over the years is that when I network with vendors its important to focus on their business and ask them questions about how I can help them grow. I think that is why a lot of my clients come from vendor referrals and why vendors become such great friends of mine.

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Photo: When He Found Her Photography

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Over the past 8 years I’ve lived in Toronto, San Francisco, Calgary and back again to Toronto. I would love to say that in 5 years I hope to still be doing weddings here but I just don’t know where my husband’s job will take us; which is exciting and scary all at the same time! I do however know that I will take on more Full Wedding Planning clients, as my son is heading off to junior kindergarten this fall. I have also expanded to Muskoka, as my family now has a cottage in the beautiful region and I have established some new relationships with outstanding vendors in the area. So my hope is to plan and coordinate more stunning Muskoka weddings in the future.

Demystifying the Wedding Planner’s Role

What does a Wedding Planner do, anyway?

by Daniela Caputo, WPICC, Instructor for WPIC and Owner of Montreal Event Planner

Hiring the right Wedding (Planner) Professional is critical to planning your dream wedding…
(this alone can be quite stressful)

  • How does one find the right match?
  • How do you know whom to trust?
  • Where do you go for advice

Well first of all, this is not an easy task and it’s totally normal for couples to feel overwhelmed,
frustrated or confused.
It’s not like you plan a wedding every day, right?
This is all brand new to you, so be patient with yourself and pace yourself….

Here are a few tips to finding the right WEDDING PROFESSIONAL for you;
Do Your Homework. You’ll get much more out of a meeting or conversation with a
wedding professional if you do a little background homework first.

  • Spend some time on the internet or talking to friends who’ve recently been
    married.
  • Find out the average prices in your area and what services are available.
  • Get an idea of what you like and don’t like.
  • Wedding websites and chat rooms can be a great resource.
  • This way when you meet with a wedding professional you’ll be able to ask
    better questions and have an idea of what to look out for.

Meet With Them. An in person meeting is the best way to interview a potential wedding
planner. It lets you get the full experience of their personality, style and professionalism.
If that’s not possible, have a phone conversation.

Ask Questions. There are no stupid questions! Make sure you get clear, specific answers
to your questions. If you aren’t sure what something means, ask them to clarify. Keep
asking questions until you completely understand.

If the wedding planner has a problem with you asking questions, they probably aren’t the
one for you. The best wedding professionals are patient, understanding and take the time to
help you make the best choices for your wedding.

Listen. Don’t just hear the words they say, really listen. Watch the vendor’s body
language;

  • Are they confident and comfortable with their response?
  • Do they look and sound nervous?
  • Do you get a “funny feeling” about them?

Take all the sights, sounds and feelings into account along with their responses; if your gut
tells you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.

Check References. Portfolios are hand-picked to show off the best work, but they may not
represent the “average” wedding performance. Videos are edited for the optimum
presentation. However, real referrals from satisfied clients are hard to fake;

  • Call up both client and professional references.
  • Ask questions and use those listening skills.
  • Even if they give a rave review, you’ll often be able to “read between the lines”
    if there were any issues or problems.
  • Ask around and search the internet for reviews.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for any outstanding complaints against the
    business.
  • Weigh all of this information into your choices.

The following are MUST ASK QUESTIONS to ask your potential Wedding Professional:

How many weddings do you do per year?
How much experience do you have?

These are extremely important questions. Ideally, your wedding professional should have ample
experience specifically with weddings. Not only will they be more skilled in their craft, this also
makes them a valuable source of information and ensures that your wedding day goes smoothly.

How much do you cost?

Price is often relative, especially when you factor in experience, reputation and expert skill.
Generally, the most talented professionals have a higher price tag because they are worth it.

How much is the Initial Payment?
What specifically is included in that cost?

Because packages often vary, it’s likely that you won’t be able to compare one vendor exactly to
the next without doing a little figuring. The lowest cost isn’t necessarily the best deal; some higher
quotes include services that you have to pay extra for in other packages. Make sure you take this
into account.

What happens if I cancel?
What happens if you cancel?

Find out if your Initial Payment is refundable under any conditions. Does the wedding professional have a backup plan if something happens to them?

Do you use a contract?

If the answer is No, RUN! A contract is designed to protect both you and the wedding professional. Don’t settle for a verbal agreement that won’t hold up in court.

Are there any additional fees?

Taxes, service charges and travel fees can add up quickly. Make sure you understand exactly what
is included and if there are any other fees you’ll have to pay. This should be clearly defined in your
contract.

Do you carry Liability Insurance?

The answer you’re looking for here is Yes. This protects you in case an unfortunate accident
should occur on your wedding day. It’s also a sign that this is a reputable business; since most “fly
by night” operations don’t invest in insurance. If chosen wisely, with the right wedding vendors
you get expert help and advice…for free!

GO TO PERSON:
Don’t forget your Wedding Professional is going to be your go-to person. From answering your
wedding etiquette questions to vendor contract negotiations, this team will design, coordinate
and manage your day down to the smallest detail, saving you time, hassle and headaches. The full service wedding package normally includes:

  • Initial consulting to discuss your vision and expectations.
  • Developing your signature style based on your personality as a couple.
  • Establishing and maximizing your budget, with ongoing tracking of all expenses.
  • Creating a calendar, so it’s easy to stay up-to-day.
  • Assistance in selecting, ordering and mailing invitations.
  • Referring and scheduling appointments with vendors that meet your precise needs.
    (from venue – caterer – photographer and more)
  • Negotiating vendor contracts with your best interest in mind.
  • Securing the hotel packages for out-of town guests.
  • Review meetings with you and your groom, to put your mind at ease.
  • Finding and securing the rehearsal dinner venue.
  • Attending rehearsal, by lending support and assistance.
  • Coordinating and orchestrating all wedding day activities.
  • Taking care of all reception logistical details, from the floor plan to supervising table
    setting, name card placement, flower arrangement, distribution of payments to
    vendors etc…

WEDDING COSTS (behind the contract)
When planning your wedding you likely will go to many vendors and part of that process is
receiving quotes for each chosen products and/or services. You ask yourself; Why is there so much variation in price points? Well, there are a million answers for that but I’ll try and breakdown the most common of them…

LABOUR
Would you work at your job for free? No.  Well good… because no matter how much I love you and my career I can’t and won’t either.  I have a family to feed, a roof to put over our heads, and a life to live. If you don’t pay my time (yes, labour) than I am essentially working for free and quite frankly… I can’t afford that.

OVERHEAD
Offices cost money. If your chosen vendor works from home that costs money as well. If we travel to you, to your vendors, go out on sourcing trips, or site visits. It’s ALL overhead. Overhead are the fixed costs associated with running our business that you, as the client, have to help pay in the long run…

RENTAL VS PURCHASE
Rental rates are most often cheaper than purchase price but can still be expensive depending on the product. Swarovski crystal is much more expensive than glass. Likewise different items cost different amounts. The longer a vendor owns said object the less valuable it becomes (as it builds wear and tear).

CREATIVE PROCESS
This one is tricky but for people, like myself, who are ‘creative’ our ‘product’ is our creativity.  There is a dollar value associated with our time, our efforts, and our creativity for our clients.  Inspiration boards, custom designed centerpieces, invitations, unique design, etc… all are
examples of the creative process. People are often confused or frustrated by paying for an ‘intangible’ item but in the end my ‘intangible’ creative brain evokes the emotion, creates the design, and sculpts your wedding into a work of art. What’s that worth to you?

TRUCKING & DELIVERY
Gas prices suck! There I said it! However, running a business means having the ability to travel and shipping costs, trucking costs, setup, teardown, etc… are all part of that. When gas/travel prices go up – often so does the quote in correlation to what we’re seeing in raising costs elsewhere.

QUALITY OF PRODUCT
You can (& some people do) have their weddings for next to no budget. Personally, I’m delighted they can do it! However, I know the sacrifices that they have to make in order to do that. Quality product does not come cheap. Let me explain … it rarely comes cheap. There are exceptions to every rule of course. If you want premium product be prepared to pay premium price.

REPUTATION & EXPERIENCE
Along with reputation and experience comes knowing your worth. Anyone with a solid reputation in their industry and the experience to back it up earns more. It’s like a corporate ladder for the self employed. When we start out, we probably did pro-bono or at-cost work, but that very quickly shows a very negative bottom line and doesn’t work. Those who want to get better in their Industry know that they have to produce outstanding work – consistently. This means attending conferences, tradeshows, seminars and yes, producing beautiful weddings ALL THE TIME.

SUPPLY & DEMAND
Those with great reputations & experiences levels are also the most sought after and thus demand drives pricing structures as well. Likewise, if I am a company of one or even two people and you sign with us you are guaranteeing my personal services thus making it impossible for anyone else to book my services for your date, this in turn makes me a solid commodity for the first who hires me for my services.

Now that you ‘KNOW’ where the costs come from doesn’t always make it easier to comprehend?
Isn’t knowing better than not knowing?

Photo by ChristinaEstabanPhotography.com

Photo by ChristinaEstabanPhotography.com

For nearly three decades, Daniela Caputo and her company Montreal Event Planner has been the go-to authority, because of her wealth of experience and expertise.

She has developed a reputation for professionalism in various aspects of planning, from client services and project management to marketing, event execution, negotiations and sourcing, putting her at the forefront of event planning in Montreal and beyond.

Daniela is regularly featured and interviewed in industry publications such as The Event Planner magazine.  Given her expertise and reputable success, Daniela was invited to teach various courses on event planning at as well as speak for a number of school boards.

Daniela  joined the WPIC team of Instructors in 2014.

5 Tips for Improving Your Wedding Business

by Mary Swaffield, WPICC of Mary Elizabeth & Co.

It’s something we all strive to do, day in and day out: improve. We want to be better than we were last week, last month, last year. We want to be better than our competition (there is nothing wrong with that!) and better FOR our clients. Improvement is what keeps us motivated.

It can also burn us out. But we’ll get to that. First, here are my top 5 tips for improving your wedding business.

1 – Set goals
Oh c’mon, you knew that was coming! However, this really is proven to be the most effective way of improving yourself and your business. The trick is to do it right. Here are some considerations for each goal that you set.

  • Timing: Is this a short term or long term goal? Break it down even further: I set goals for this week, this month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 3 years and 5 years.
  • Purpose: What is the purpose for each goal? Does it tie into your overall vision for your company over the long term? Understanding the purpose behind your goals will go a long way towards helping you accomplish them.
  • Metrics: Is your goal measureable? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? It’s critical to put some very specific metrics behind each goal so that you are able to analyse how close you are to accomplishing it as you go along.
  • Efficiency: Is your goal a smart use of your time? Sometimes I feel that we set what I call “busy goals” – goals that make us feel productive in our businesses, but don’t actually help us to improve in areas that are substantive and tie into our overall business strategy.
  • Immediacy: What can I do TODAY to get closer to achieving each goal? When you make your to-do list every day, match each task up to a specific goal that you’ve set. You’ll be surprised to see how much you actually accomplish towards your goals each and every day.

Now…Write them down. Yep, you knew that was coming too. Write them down, and keep them where you can see them and review them often.
Find an accountability team. I love Mastermind groups. My Mastermind group is constantly challenging my goals and pushing me to work towards them week after week. They keep me accountable and humble. Revisit your goals often – they can and will change as your business evolves. And most importantly – CELEBRATE your accomplishments. Whatever that means to you – for me, it usually means a night off and a bottle of wine!

​2 – Stop the quest for perfection.

This one was and still is HARD for me. My business is my baby, and I want to do everything I can to ensure it is as perfect as it can be. But perfection is a HUGE roadblock when it comes to efficiency. And efficiency usually creates more time and energy for focusing on the things bring more business your way. If you are spending 2 hours working on the layout of a template that is internal and your client will NEVER see, you are being inefficient and it’s costing your company money. There are cases where perfection is in the best interest of your business – doing a styled shoot, for example – and cases where it can be the death of you. Make sure you have a clear strategy when it comes to determining when perfection is appropriate in your business. I usually filter things through three lenses: a) does the effort I’m putting into this provide value for my client? b) will the effort I’m putting into this translate into additional profit? c) will the public be seeing this (and therefore does it affect my brand identify?). If I can’t answer “yes” to at least one of these, then I have to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and focus instead on just getting things done. Sometimes “good enough” is actually good enough!

3 – Don’t live in a bubble

The wedding industry is massive and at times overwhelming. There are endless wedding inspiration blogs, wedding information blogs, wedding shops, wedding shows, wedding organizations… whew! It’s crazy, and AWESOME! But I do find that sometimes it helps move you forward when you step out of the bubble and spend time networking with and learning about other industries. You might be surprised if I told you that some of my most successful business strategies came from attending conferences and webinars on things like home building, interior design, and social media. I’ve learned so much about pricing, advertising, client care, software, promotion, fashion, blogging… the list goes on! all from stepping outside of the wedding industry and always thinking “how can I apply this lesson to my business”?? Get out there and make connections and always be open to lessons for your business that aren’t directly related at first glance.

4 – Always be marketing

Gone are the days of so-called “passive marketing” when you could put up your website and wait for the phone to ring! There is way too much competition out there now, and Brides/Grooms (customers) are extremely savvy when it comes to doing their research. Having a good website isn’t good enough – you won’t get heard in the noise. My business coach once gave me a great piece of advice: he said, your time should be divided into two areas: marketing for new clients and taking care of current clients. Having a detailed and strategic marketing plan is what will help you stand apart from your competitors and ensure that you are consistently receiving inquiries. You should be ACTIVELY marketing your business every single day. Schedule time to focus on it – with continued and consistent attention, you will see a dramatic increase in your inquiries within weeks. So many planners focus on what to do when you have clients… which is very important, of course! But if you don’t focus on what to do to GET clients, what to do when you have them isn’t going to matter much because you won’t have any.

5 – Keep Learning

I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much education. Whether you are attending conferences, seminars, reading business books, participating in workshops, taking e-courses, researching online… no matter the platform, when you keep learning, you are constantly increasing your value to your clients AND you are challenging yourself to continue improving. There are endless options out there and the benefits are too numerous to even list when it comes to opportunities for taking your business to the next level. Not only that, I find that when I seek out new opportunities for learning, it keeps me motivated – it keeps that spark lit. It is far too easy in this industry to burn out. Believe me, I’ve been there! But when you have a mastermind group to cheer you on, or spend an evening each week learning about floral design, or attend a conference and go to even one of the dozens of inspirational sessions, it will keep you moving forward and most importantly, it will keep your passion for your business alive and well. Set a goal (see #1) to dedicate 3-4 hours each week to learning something new or learning how to improve what you already do. You’ll be amazed at the result. And be prepared to invest to achieve this! Ensure that you include professional development/education in your business budget each year, and start setting aside a small percentage of your earnings to allocate towards it. I recommend 4-5% be put aside – it will accumulate quickly and you’ll be on a plane to your first conference before you know it!

Above all, the most important aspect to improving your business is to have a little bravery and a lot of faith. Don’t be afraid to take risks, to ask for help, to invest in yourself. And you have to believe! One of my favourite sayings is “leap off the cliff and believe you’ll grow wings”. When you give yourself and your business the tools to succeed, it’s easy to have the (sometimes blind) faith that is so critical when it comes to moving forward. You can do it!!! Go, be unstoppable!

Mary Swaffield is a Wedding Business Coach who provides creative & strategic marketing for Wedding & Event Professionals, through her company Mary Elizabeth & Co.