Celebrating 2018 - A Year in Review

So many times you see all the posts about the New Year, people being ready to be done with the old one. So eager to move forward into the new, the blank slate. Everyone looking for another chance to get it right, to change it up, but the New Year is really a continuation of a bigger journey that we are all on. We all move forward with a little more wisdom, some well meaning intentions and a lot of love.

I wanted this post to be a chance for me to reflect and to celebrate what an incredible year 2018 was. Sure, when I was in the thick of it there were days I was so done, so tired and not sure which was was up, but I made it through and learned so much along the way this year. 2018 was my second full year of planning and boy did it deliver! I saw over 100% growth from 2017, which exceeded my goal for the number of events booked. I also saw a bit of a shift in my clientele as well, finding that more people that truly felt like “my people” entered into my circle. One amazing thing I have noticed this year too is that the majority of my bookings are still coming from referrals, which makes my heart happy. Knowing that people you have worked with within the industry, couples that booked me or their families/close friends are able to confidently recommend you is an incredible feeling. Knowing that sometimes when the days were long, they were worth every second of energy.

2018 started out with my first venture as a vendor in the Wonderful Wedding Show. I had taken part in the show as a venue coordinator previously, so I had a really good idea of what the chaos would be like , but it was so different when it was my business and my booth. So many moments of second guessing my design ideas, right to the end. I honestly wasn’t sure that I even liked my booth until I saw the photos Casey Nolin Photography sent me on Friday night before the show started.

Photography - Casey Nolin Photography, Florals - Beyond Flowers, Linen & Chairs - Planned Perfectly, Stationary & Calligraphy - Little Dove Calligraphy

I also took on a table scape design for the Inn at the Forks booth which had a very different feel than mine, so it was fun to play around with. This design was meant to reflect the style of their restaurant SMITH.

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Florals - Couture Floral, Linen - Dream Day Decorators, Antlers - The Vintage Nest, Stationary - Keeks Paper Co., Photography - Casey Nolin Photography

My next venture was two back to back photo shoots - the first with Local Love. Local Love is a smaller, boutique style wedding show that started in Edmonton and has been breaking into Winnipeg. I really love the idea of shows that feel more personal, more intimate and less overwhelming for clients. Reunited with my one of my faves - Casey Nolin Photography and a great group of vendors we did an indoor photo shoot at The Gates on Roblin.

Florals - Couture Floral, Photography - Casey Nolin Photography, Decor - Planned Perfectly, Tableware - Bel Ayre Rentals, Dress - Helen’s Bridal, Suit - EPH Apparel, Makeup - Noir Cosmetic Studio, Hair - Cuts by Cass,/Rehab for Hair, Stationary - Tiny Mighty Moments, Jewelry - Mokada Jewelry, Venue - The Gates on Roblin

The next photo shoot, taking place in February couldn't have been more different in every aspect. When Bond from BLF Studios reached out, I won’t lie, I squealed like a teenage girl. I have known Bond and his wife Leah from BLF Studios since my venue days at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. They blew me away with their style, but also by how genuine they are as individuals. BLF Studios is a fine art photography studio and I love everything they do. I love how you can look through their entire site and every single photo is unique to each event, each client and their story.

Bond had this great moody inspiration that had a really old world feel that I instantly fell in love with. It was so exciting to create something that wasn’t about traditional and bridal, but about beauty and detail. I think we created some magic, but I could be biased. The shoot was published on Once Wed too, which is a favourite wedding blog, so that was a really incredible way to start off 2018.

Photography - BLF Studios, Florals & Chairs - The Floral Fixx, Cake - Cake Studio, Linen - Dream Day Decorators, Dress - Anna Lang Bridal, Henkaa, Hair - Made Beauty Co., Make Up - Jessica Janel for Ashley Tiopo Artistry, Calligraphy - VP Calligraphy & Design

In March I got the opportunity to present to some of the hospitality students at Red River about event planning and what that looks like from both sides - as an independent coordinator and as a former venue coordinator. Sometimes it blows me away that I get to do stuff like this, but after 11 plus years in the industry I do know what I am talking about!

Right before Casey jetted off to get married in Ireland, we figured we’d put something together quickly to try and capture some spring inspiration before wedding season hit full force. Our Mediterranean Inspired Love Story photo shoot came together quickly and boy did we have our day of challenges!

Shooting in early May, outside in Winnipeg is always hit or miss. Well, shooting outside in Winnipeg in general can be hit or miss. The day started out beautifully, blue sky, a hint of sun. Once we were nearly set up, the wind picked up. It was picking up the tableware and flinging it around. Lauren from Stone House Creative had to reattach her ceremony greens, there were olives flying out of the bowls and bread literally tossed across the table. Our poor bridal models were freezing! We ended up unsetting the table and moving it into a little alcove to try and limit the wind, the results were perfect. This shoot features a color palette that isn’t very traditional feeling, but it’s for those brides that aren’t afraid of bold, bright colours. To top it off this shoot was featured on The Perfect Palette - the must read blog for all wedding color inspiration!

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Photography - Casey Nolin Photography, Florals - Stone House Creative, Chairs - Winnipeg Wedding Rentals, Tableware - C&T Event Rentals, Linen - Simply Perfect Decor, Stationary - Keeks Paper Co., Dress - Bliss Bridal Boutique, Chic Nostalgia, Rings - Vandenbergs Fine Jewellery, Hair and Make Up - Made Beauty Co

After this photo shoot the two organizations that I volunteer with had their events and then wedding season settled in and things got crazy. In 2018 I produced 21 different weddings/events. I met some new incredible vendors, got to coordinator in some venues that were new to me. There are so many highlights!!

I kick started the season with Liane and Jaydee’s beautiful enchanted garden style wedding at Pineridge Hollow. These two are some of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met. They were incredible clients to be blessed with.

Photography by    Luxe Images by Jill

Photography by Luxe Images by Jill

Or Jocelyn and Eric’s tear jerker of a wedding day at the Manitoba Club. I honestly don’t know if I have ever cried so much at a client’s wedding as I did for these two. They have such a beautiful love story.

Jessie and Alastair and Nikita and Matthew got married on the hottest weekend in July and both weddings had substantial outdoor components. I am not sure who wins for being the most relaxed couple of the two though. It was so beautiful to witness them fully enjoying the day and all the people that surrounded them.

Photo on the right - Stephanie Schulz Photography

August was the busiest month of the year for me with 5 weddings in a row which started out an 8 week run of 9 weddings that took me to the end of September. I will say it again and again, THANK YOU. My couples were the best and I so appreciate the love and support I got from my family during this time. I also got to share space with some beautiful families too. They don’t get more gorgeous than these faces.

Photography: Charmaine Mallari, Erwin Crescini Photography, Reanne Berard and Kassandra Donaldson

September was a whirlwind. My girls went back to school - Chaya to grade five and Tierney into grade one. Last year I had been very ready for Tierney to be in kindergarten, but there is something about grade one that is just so final feeling. I will admit there was some tears shed.

I had four weddings in September and a 16th birthday party on the go. I will give a quick shout out to my sister here as she spearheaded Chaya’s 10th birthday party - without her there may not have been a party. Two of my September weddings though were very close to my heart as both were for close friends. The first was for Casey Nolin of Casey Nolin Photography. She and Glen had taken off in the spring and had their dream wedding in Ireland. They decided to have a local reception to celebrate with those who weren’t able to join them in Ireland. What a blast! They chose the King’s Head Pub as their venue and also incorporated traditional Irish dancers, a romantic serenade surprise by Glen and The Dust Rhinos.

Photography by Brenna Farris

Photography by Brenna Farris

I also had the joy in celebrating with my dear friend Chloe and her now husband Ian. I am looking forward to blogging a bit more about her wedding and all the love that went into the day. Chloe and I have been friends for about 17 years, which seems so crazy. They had an intimate wedding with their closest family and friends. They also had the most amazing wedding food ever provided by Denise et Jean-Louis Catering. Chloe let me take the reins when it came to a lot of event design details which was so fun! Chloe made a stunning bride and this Reclamation Design Company dress is jaw dropping.

Photography by Stephanie Hodgson Photography

I capped the season off with a beautiful wedding that melded traditions from two cultures in a venue I had been dreaming of coordinating in - The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Working with Ashley and Aly I got to work with an incredible design idea, but also work on custom dinner menus and wine pairings, which for anyone that knows me, well, they’ll get it. Totally my geek.

Photography by  Trish Palud

Photography by Trish Palud

This photo though!!!

This post has ended up being so much longer than I anticipated and so much more incredible than I had really thought it would be. Here I am sitting on my couch saying thank you to 2018 for it’s challenges and all the beauty you brought my way. I can’t help but be excited to see where 2019 takes me, but from here it feels like 2018 might be hard to top.

2017 - A Year in Review

It's hard to believe that today is the last day of 2017.  This year has really been something else.  Had you told me last January that this is where I'd be in my life - running Inspired Elegance Events with a successful first year coming to a close, I would have said you were crazy.  

One year ago, I had a job that I loved with my whole heart, filled with the best clients, but in a place that wasn't healthy.  I ignored that latter because of how much I loved what I did and the people I did it for.  Then that changed. I didn't have that job any more and I was lost.  I had put so much energy into that job for so long I wasn't sure what came next.  Insert some amazing people here.  

When people started asking "What's next?" I'd stare blankly.  This was answered every single time with "Sheila, you're going to do what you love, what you're great at, where your passion is.  Start your own business."  When I couldn't see what came next, it was so obvious to everyone around me because no matter what happened, no one could take away what I loved doing.  

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There it was.  Great life lesson.  Insert more amazing people here.  Friends and family who looked at logos for hours, website drafts, photo selections.  Individuals who took the time from their days and businesses to give advice, who helped me translate myself into Inspired Elegance Events, because even when I didn't know what I wanted it to say, I wanted it to feel personal and authentic.  I realized along the journey that this message was so important to me.  

Instagram's Best 9 have been flooding in the last week or two and I posted mine.  

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This is what it looked like.  Some really personal moments - my first head shot, my business card design, my first "Friday Introduction" and my first booth design for a wedding show.

What I realized, as I looked through the images is that there were so many more moments that I was insanely proud of or that taught big lessons that weren't represented.  I have reflected over the last week about what exactly my personal best moments were for the year.  These were so hard to choose!

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The first image (top left corner) is of a photoshoot I did with Casey Nolin Photography and an incredible cast of local Winnipeg talent.  This shoot was featured in Love Inc. Magazine, Aisle Society and locally with Host Winnipeg which was an exciting start to the first couple of months of running my own business.  I loved getting to work with vendors I'd known for years but in a different capacity.  It also allowed me to meet some new faces - Fauna and Fern, Brittany Jill Photography and Brenna Faris Photo. This photoshoot is also the first time I worked with Casey personally and am so blessed that this has developed into an incredible friendship.  Casey's support and optimism have been amazing to have.

The second image (moving clockwise) is of Ally and Josh's lovely brunch wedding in April.  Ally and Josh were one of my first booked clients after launch thanks to a referral.  Working with Ally and Josh was so much fun, they were the type of clients that invited you over for dinner to plan. They started off my year with a perfect reminder - personal and authentic.

The third image is of a beautiful wedding that taught me so much about being a business owner and about boundaries.  Thank you.  Image courtesy of Austin Kylie Photography.

Mandi and Juliano were a full coordination client that I had the pleasure of working with.  They had such an incredible sense of what they wanted their wedding to look and feel like, which makes planning so much easier.  I learned the importance of tailoring how I planned with a client to suit their specific set of needs and maintaining the consistency of this throughout the process.  It also brought Chantelle into my life who has brought a lot of laughter and a great sounding board for all things business.  Photo courtesy of Chantelle Dione Photography.

The bottom middle image was so hard to select from this photoshoot.  There were so many that I loved. Charmaine perfectly captured how I wanted this Boho shoot to feel (which is always a fear I have with photoshoots - that I won't be able to translate what I see in my head into what you see).  This photoshoot has been featured on Prairie Weddings and Style Inspired Weddings.  Charmaine has also a great teacher to me.  She has taught me about staying true to what you want to do and how you do it. This photoshoot introduced me to a florist that I hadn't worked with previously - Geranium Lake Botanicals.  If you aren't familiar with Amanda's work, I suggest you take a peek!  Her bouquet from this shoot was selected by Style Inspired Weddings in their Top 10 Gallery.

The final image is of Allison and Kevin's wedding.  I have selected it because when they hired me (after meeting with a couple of other planners) they told me that the reason they chose me was because they were confident in me and my experience.  One of the things that I have had to learn this year is how to sell myself.  I used to be a venue coordinator - I can sell you a venue.  Being a business owner though means that I have to sell me, my experience, it's almost like a running job interview.  It meant so much to me knowing that this was how they felt after a consultation.  I also got to work with Tony of BLF Studios, which I loved as BLF Studios has long been a favourite of mine. Photo courtesy of Tony at BLF Studios.

2017 has been a year of lessons and gratitude.  I can't thank all my family (especially Ken, Shannon and Yared),  friends and vendor friends enough for pushing me and supporting me.  Thank you to all the couples who've chosen me and trusted me.  Cheers to 2017 for showing me that anything is possible!