Describe what you do for couples, paint a picture.
I work with every couple differently but my goal is to make sure everything a couple wants for their wedding happens and with ease. That they get to celebrate their marriage in a way that is truly enjoyable for them. I really like taking the time to get to know each of my couples and learn what is most important to them about their wedding so I can personalize how I support them. My husband describes my work as wedding insurance, a friend recently described me as a wedding doula, I personally consider my services a mix of wedding BFF, confidant, co-conspirator and ultimate hype women with the event operations knowledge to back it all up.
How did you get involved in the industry? Tell us a bit about you and how you got here.
Oh I love this question!! My introduction to the events world started when I was about 4 or 5 years old when I would help my dad, a high school teacher who ran a hospitality services class, cater the school’s prom. I thought it was so special to be part of such a big party and my dad loves telling people how he and the other students would be done with everything and how I would rally everyone to do one more bowl of punch because there were still students partying. My love for planning and hosting grew from there. It was reinforced in university when I had the opportunity to work some incredible coop jobs with the federal government but enjoyed my long hours working and managing a Beavertails booth on the Ottawa canal more. I’m a hospitality girl for life. I want to be in the thick of it, orchestrating things behind the scenes, making time for the memories to happen, making people smile.
How does a wedding planner differ from a wedding coordinator?
A coordinator typically comes in at the last minute and will focus more on the logistics of the day and making sure everything that has been previously planned comes together. Wedding planners work with a couple to source vendors, make a timeline, decide on a plan for the day and more. I truly believe to best coordinate an event it’s critical to be involved in the planning. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating another wedding planner’s wedding and we met several times leading up to the wedding to go through the plan and chat through different options. Even if I wasn’t part of the planning process they would have planned a fantastic wedding because it’s what they do BUT because I was involved in the planning I was more familiar with the day, knew the reasons for why they planned things the way they did and knew intimately what was important to them. This allowed me to best focus my coordinating when it came to the wedding and any unexpected issues that needed to be managed. It’s how I prefer to work with all of my clients.
I have a background of working in hotels and I know a lot of venues already have a wedding coordinators. When venues already have a wedding coordinator do people still hire you? How do you collaborate and work with venues/their coordinators?
It depends on the couple, venue, and what their plans are for the wedding. Most venue coordinators are solely focused on the aspects of the day specific to the venue. Table set-up, food service, etc. Even a really hands-on venue coordinator likely won’t help coordinate your ceremony, cue music, or work with your other vendors to ensure your timeline was followed and everything goes smoothly, that's where I fill the gaps. I do find that venue coordinators are an ally in the planning process and I love working with them to create a floor plan and plan the food services. A venue coordinator knows the strengths and weaknesses of their venue and is such a valuable resource when planning! I work with venues the same way I work with all vendors as a TEAM. Events run well when all the people involved are communicating and supporting each other in their work. It’s also a lot more fun that way too!
So it's clear you bring a big boost for couples but what do couples find most helpful about what you do?
I think couples appreciate the experience and sincerity I bring to their plans. I genuinely want to support them and their guests in celebrating their day in the way they want to. I have decades of experience in the hospitality and events world and draw on that in all aspects of my work.
Weddings are expensive - What is an average budget if someone wants to hire you?
My coordinating - with planning support! - packages start at $2500. Most couples have a total budget of $20,000 or more for their entire wedding but even couples with a smaller budget can find value from my services as the planning support I offer can help them stick with to their smaller budget or find ways to save money they hadn’t thought of. As my husband notes, my services are like wedding insurance. Couples spend so much time, energy, and money planning their wedding, my services help to ensure that couples, their families, and guests all get to enjoy the celebration and aren’t running around working it.
This checks out, when we got married I said to you "The only thing I really want is to not answer a million questions on our wedding day, I want to be enjoying it." We'd been working on details for month and I wanted to let go of the wheel on the wedding day and that's where you stepped in and took us over the finish line.
We contacted you well before our wedding and officially invited you down to our home to see the property where we'd get married plenty in advance but most of the action took place the weekend we got married and because we were photographing weddings for other people in the days leading up to our wedding; so we relied heavily on you to pull things together for us.
How early/soon before a wedding day do you come onboard? What state are couples in when they hire you?
I have had couples hire me two years out and 5 weeks out! The help I provide is the same but when it’s only a month or so before the wedding I tend to be triaging with a bit more urgency to make sure we are set-up for success on the wedding day. Every couple and every wedding is unique so they all tend to be in a different part of their planning process and a bit of a different state of mind when we start working together. My method of operation is to meet couples where they are and help them based on their individual needs.
I've got a dream list. I want to photograph a summer mountain wedding, a winter mountain wedding, any mountain wedding. I'd like to do more weddings in Cape Breton in autumn, PEI fields, show me the way to Newfoundland and lemme get a couple out on an iceberg. Do you have a bucket list of venues/styles of weddings you'd like to assist with?
I spent so many years working for the same venue as a coordinator that I get pretty pumped with every new spot I get to work in. I enjoy exploring a new venue or private property and imagining how we can use the space to create a really special experience. Before Covid I was helping a couple plan a festival style wedding with multiple performances and roving stages, the wedding was canceled and I would love to get a chance to organize something similar and see that vision come to life!
We love the romance and stories (the "who's from where", the family history, to the tea), the grooms who cry, witnessing the open-bar heart to hearts and so much more. What's your favourite part of the job?
Oh it’s the smiles, hand down, the best part! I love knowing that I had a role to play in the memories that are being made when people get together to celebrate. Especially a wedding. It’s just a little bit of magic, no matter how you choose to celebrate.
Who are your dream clients?
Anyone who wants to celebrate!! Seriously, I have a reputation for loving all of my clients. I’m a people person and I love meeting, working, and creating connections with people. I prefer clients who are planning a wedding that is a reflection of themselves and the things they enjoy doing over couples who are doing certain things because they feel it’s expected of them. I’m here for creating real life experiences and not performances.
Top 5 "pro-tips" from your insight and working in the industry?
1. Before you start planning ANYTHING, sit down with your partner and talk about how you want to celebrate getting married. What do you like doing? What’s important to include? Is there anything you don’t want to do? At the end of the chat the goal is to have 3-5 things to focus on for your wedding. Is it great music? Delicious food? Beautiful decor? The smell of the Ocean? Real flowers? It can be anything big or small but having a list of things that are important to you will make the decision making process around planning your wedding so much easier. Wedding planning can become overwhelming especially when things come up that you weren’t anticipating. When you get overwhelmed or need to consider a budget item you weren’t expecting, reflect back on your priorities and let them guide your decision. It will make things much easier.
2. A wedding is a celebration of your marriage and there is no right or wrong way to celebrate. That being said, if you are doing something out of the ordinary, be clear about it with your guests so they know what to expect and can plan accordingly. No formal meal? Outdoor ceremony in the middle of winter? No alcohol? Smaller, more intimate ceremony with a bigger reception after? Party on! Just be clear with your guests so no one is confused or caught off guard the day of.
3. A bit of a continuation of number 2. If you are leaving out something considered more traditional from your celebration plans, no bouquets, no first dance, no cake, etc. etc. and folks keep asking you about that thing, feel free to tell them it’s a surprise. It can avoid a lot of potentially frustrating conversations where someone is trying to convince you that you need something for your wedding that you’ve already decided isn’t for you. If they are a wedding guest chances are they won’t even notice the missing element and if they do they likely won’t say anything about it.
4. When choosing a photographer and planner/coordinator consider not only their skills but their personality. Other than your family and friends you will be interacting with these two vendors the most on your wedding day and they can really affect the energy of the day.
5. The one aspect of your timeline you absolutely want to be on time for is dinner! Your caterer is preparing food to be served at a specific time and if it’s delayed the quality of the food is going to suffer. To help keep your dinner start time as accurate as possible I always suggest allowing 15 minutes for guests to transition from cocktail hour to dinner and another 10-15 minutes for the MC to make their introductions and do a grand entrance/welcome toast/etc.
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