Tag: Okanagan

Raise the Bar

Wedding season is in full swing and I’ve been MIA from my blog.  Today has been the first time in over a month I’ve actually had enough energy and contentment to sit quietly on our patio and just write.

This season feels so different from last year it’s hard to even comprehend where I was at a year ago today.  I had just finished up as campaign assistant to Minister Terry Lake in the provincial election, I was in the process of finishing up a contract planning job at the YMCA, I just finished planning my sister’s June 28th wedding, I had 9 other weddings on top of my own to plan, and we were packing our basement suite for a move to Kelowna.  Last year all I kept saying to myself was to put my head down and get through it.  When it came to leaving for our honeymoon in late September, I was so exhausted I bawled my eyes out for an entire hour before we left.  A tantrum that resembled something of a 2 year old needing a nap crossed with feeling like you were being tortured with the worst hangover of your life.

Something had to give this year.  If I wanted to be a full-time wedding planner I was going to have to make a lot of changes.  It started with the move to the Okanagan but that was just the beginning.  I attended a one-on-one workshop with one of California’s top wedding planners, I hired a business coach, I got creative with behind the scenes branding, I paid close attention to what blogs and magazines were looking for and got featured 11 times, I networked and marketed, and studied business books every spare hour I had time for.  And when all of that was done, I raised my rates. Significantly.  After 10 months of living in Kelowna, I have increased my average booking rate by 500%.  Though it was really never about the money. I just wanted to raise the bar for myself. Really raise it.  Enough that my brides saw and felt value in my new pricing and that I felt creative and inspired enough to make this my full-time career.

There’s no doubt I feel exhausted this season but it’s definitely different.  For the first time since becoming a wedding planner I feel like every extra hour I put in and every detail I obsess over  is being recognized and valued. Every lost hour of sleep and every painful step with sore feet after a wedding day is worth it.  My clients are worth it.

I’m so excited to get to wake up and live my dream job every single day.  I’ll be attending a styling workshop this October in Whistler with one of the most talented stylists in the US, Joy Thigpen.  And I hope to continue to push to be a better entrepreneur and planner every single year.

Here’s to an amazing summer full of the most beautiful weddings.

xonicole

Outside of Weddings

We had friends over the other night for drinks and boardgames and they asked us, what do you like to do outside of weddings?  It’s a funny question because I don’t think many people know what Royce and I are like outside of work.  Even the majority of our friends only know us in a work setting.  But we’re actually quite different when it’s just us.  We’re really playful people.  For instance, two nights ago we had an impromptu dance party in our living room and last night’s date night consisted of frozen yogurt and the movie, Sharktale.  We really don’t take ourselves too seriously outside of work and I like it that way.  I spend my entire day planning and organizing, when work is done I want to play.  And with Royce being a ski photographer he definitely has a fun and adventurous side.

When we decided to have our own businesses, it was a big step for us in deciding the kind of life we wanted to live.  And for us, it meant waking up and enjoying the long days of emails and editing.  It meant a summer full of 60+ our work weeks.  It meant sacrificing benefits and consistent income.  But it also meant a life of freedom to do things our way.  Loving ours jobs is such a freeing feeling because it allows us to embrace life in a different way.

I guess the long winded answer to what we like to do outside of work is whatever we feel like.  And typically that’s finding new rustic coffee shops and restaurants, doing anything by water, and travelling!  This weekend we’ll drive back to Saskatchewan for our first wedding of the season. Our busiest season yet.  And when that’s conquered, we’ll take 2 weeks off at the end of September and cross another item off our bucket list… We’re driving to California! Oregon Coast, San Francisco, Disneyland, and many new coffee shops and campsites in between.  It’s going to be ahhhmazing!

Some of Our Bucket List includes:

  1. Driving the Oregon Coast (honeymoon)
  2. Take a 1-on-1 workshop with an elite wedding planner (Aug 2013)
  3. Driving to California (Fall 2014)
  4. Attend a styling workshop (Oct 2014!)
  5. Backpacking through Europe (Fall 2015)
  6. Building our dream home, complete with loft attic
  7. Having 3 kids
  8. Getting our photos taken by Troy & Aimee Grover

What’s on your bucket list??

 

xonicole

 

 

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No Excuses

I was raised in a no bullshit family. My dad told you what you needed to hear even when it wasn’t always what you wanted to hear.  And my mom never scolded you for anything you did poorly as long as “you know you tried your very best.”  Which in short is the guilt-tripping way of telling you, “You know you didn’t try as hard as you should’ve and that’s why you got that mark.” So in sum, I was raised to be very in control of my life and my choices and to take both the credit and the heat for them.

As an entrepreneur, I’m thankful to have been raised like that.  Even when I used to wish my dad would take pity on me with my adorable youngest child syndrome and only blame my sisters for breaking the fan when it clearly wasn’t my fault that my older sister had the idea to throw teddy bears at the ceiling fan to make them fly…  Who cares if I threw them too.

Anyways, we all know I was a great kid.  Moving on.  I was inspired to write this blog based on the annoying amount of excuses I’ve been hearing/seeing from people lately.  Your business, your job, your personal life, your relationships, your life, rises and falls on your shoulders.  I don’t care how difficult your day has been, how busy you are, how successful someone else is, if you want a certain life for yourself then you need to go out and get it.

I can complain all I want that I have to pay for my own benefits and that I’m going to have to plan down to the month that we have kids.  Then don’t become an entrepreneur.  I can complain that other people are booking a wedding I wanted.  If I really cared, then I should figure out what my business needs to increase sales and make myself the clear choice for future clients.  If I want to make more money, I need to figure out what it is that’s going to increase my value as a planner so I can increase my rates.  If you’re too busy for the gym, start prioritizing yourself better and make the commitment.  If you don’t like the way someone treats you, then stop letting them and find a healthy way to communicate or remove yourself from the situation.  If you’re constantly jealous of someone else’s life or business, start focussing on how to get there instead of comparing yourself.

Life isn’t rocket science.  Stop making excuses and start finding pro-active solutions.

No more excuses.

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Let Love Be Genuine

I want to talk about the wedding industry in a way that most people don’t talk about it. I’d like to say that I think being a wedding planner is truly the best job in the world and there is literally nothing that would keep me from living this out as my career, but the industry can be exhausting. Truly exhausting.

Imagine it like this: You walk into your office where there was no filter for who was hired, anyone that wanted to work there started working there, the majority of the people there are extremely independent and like to do things their own way, they may have completely different values or goals than you but you all work in the same office, the gossip in the workplace is out of control, oh and you’re all selected to work on projects together and attend events together or you’ll look bad to your boss.

Essentially, in the most negatively written way possible… that’s the wedding industry. It’s a giant office filled with opinion and criticism. The worst part is, that criticism is all too often put on each other instead of oneself. And that’s where it gets me. We (myself included unfortunately) are the first to point our finger at other people not running their business how we think they should run it, instead of focussing on how to grow our own businesses and give our clients the most amazing service and wedding possible.

The other day my husband (who’s a wedding photographer) had another photographer’s website open of work he didn’t like and he started talking about it and I just snapped. Not because I’ve never done this myself, but because it’s not what I want for our businesses or for us as people. I just can’t take it anymore. If you don’t like someone’s work then don’t look at it. If you don’t actually like what they do, don’t tell them you do. Don’t “like” their photo on Facebook or comment just to have your name seen and look friendly. “Let love be genuine”- Romans 12:9. I will willingly admit that I don’t follow many of my competitors on Facebook because I don’t like that it makes me feel like an ugly person when I get jealous, feel threatened, or critique their work. And I never, ever tell someone I like something if I don’t. That’s not what this industry needs. It doesn’t need more people being fake with each other. Be supportive, and if you can’t be supportive or genuine leave them alone and let them run their business how they choose.

The more we focus on our passions of why we do what we do and how to better serve our clients, the more our businesses will thrive. And when your business thrives, it’s amazing how quickly jealously and criticism begins to fade away.

xonicole

 

Nautical Romance- Kelowna Styled Shoot

Now this shoot was a huge challenge for me.  I really have this obsession with working with pastels and soft tones to fit my rustic, Southern style so working with reds and navys really through me off.  Thankfully, I had such talented vendors to work with and it all came together to fulfill our nautical and romantic vision.

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Photography: Royce Sihlis Photography

Hair & Make-Up: Melissa Craven 

Flowers: Classic Creations Floral Design

Cake & Cupcakes: Sweet On You Designer Cups & Cakes

Custom Cookies: Sarah’s Sweets

Vintage Rentals: Vintage Origami

Stationary: Dandelion Willows

Venue: Lindon House

Wedding Dresses: Ashbury Bridal

Event Styling: Created Lovely Events