On March 8, 2020 the world commemorated International Women’s Day, a movement that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For us in the event industry, it is a special occasion to celebrate being part of a community that has evolved and embraces the gender equality movement, providing a safer space for talented women to dream and achieve big things.
In this second part of the “Women in Events” series, we spoke with one of Canada’s most influential event professionals and wedding planners, Lynn Fletcher, President and Creative Director of Lynn Fletcher Weddings. She shared with us her love for love, what it took to grow her business and explained how she she’s managed her busy personal and professional life schedule.
Please share to spread a message of support and gratitude for this amazing woman who have elevated our industry and the quality of weddings to unimaginable latitudes.
Q: Tell us about your career path and how you got to be one of Calgary’s most successful wedding planners?
Back in 1997, our industry was just starting out. The internet was just starting to explode, email didn’t exist, Pinterest and Instagram were definitely not on the radar! I would go to the bookstore, buy every wedding planning book I could find, rip them apart, and study. I didn’t know it back then but all those ripped pages have morphed into the tools and templates that my team and I use today. With a little bit of knowledge and a very crafty hand, I started with my own little wedding decorating business in Vancouver part time while my day job was working with high school special needs students. I was a seamstress too back then and loved scrapbooking, so I pretty much made all the décor, stationery, and gowns, including a few bridal gowns! I did all the set up and tear down myself with my friends who all owed me favours!
The early days were full of learning, making mistakes, more learning, studying, taking classes wherever I could, and just being a sponge with a very humble heart knowing that I definitely did not know enough about how to succeed in the business.
In 2003, I moved home to Calgary from Vancouver and decided not to start my own business but to find the best design firm in the city and be a part of that team. I got hired at a great company with an owner that was truly ahead of her time as far as event design went. She was a brilliant designer and served the luxury wedding market in incredible venues. I was really lucky to have worked with her for so long and learned so much from her. She introduced me to ILEA (The International Live Event Association), encouraged me to submit my weddings for awards, and pushed me to be confident in being an Instructor in Mount Royal University’s Event Management program. She was a trail blazer in the industry and I learned so much from watching her command her world… and by default, what became my world.
But then getting married and having a baby in 2008 took me on a new path of self discovery and I eventually started LFW Events (Lynn Fletcher Weddings) when my daughter was 14 months old! Yikes! My office was in the bonus room of my house, and my daughter would run around in her pajamas and sit on my team’s laps, colour all over their contracts, and play at their feet while they worked at their desks. It was a little family that produced one carefully planned wedding at a time. Eventually we built enough of a referral base and a good enough stack of weddings per year to move out of my house and live where we still are today. Little by little, one business move after another, we are at a point where we have 6 full time and 75 part time staff producing 60-70 luxury weddings a year.
Q: In your opinion, what are the best qualities of a wedding planner?
Patience and humility. You are there to serve the couple and their families. It isn’t about you. It is about what your expertise can bring in order to help their planning process go smoother. If you don’t absolutely LOVE LOVE, this is not the career for you. A great wedding planner should fall in love with their clients and get so excited that it would difficult to tell who is more excited about the wedding…. The couple or their planner.
Q: What do you think is the role of women in the evolution of the event industry?
I think women can be great examples of how to handle motherhood and their careers. A mother’s life changes significantly as she sets out to raise her family. Then again, there are some super amazing event dads killing it out there too. I would like to think and truly believe, that women and men in our industry have the same role; we are all passionate people with a lot to give our clients. The event industry if full of so many strong women who have worked hard to level that playing field for our leaders. It isn’t about being a woman in the industry, it’s a about being a leader. Everyone has that responsibility to uphold high standards of ethics in a fast paced, growing industry.
Q: Best advice for new event professionals wanting to build a career as a wedding planner.
Do not be in a rush! All great things take time to make. Celebrate where you are today and keep building. Get educated and get real. Know that you do not know it all and probably never will. I see many wedding planners who start their businesses before they truly are ready to put their money where their mouth is. They quickly become overwhelmed and disillusioned at what their career actually was going to be. I am very glad that I started my career working under someone I admired. I was able to hone my craft without having to have the buck stop with me. If I were a budding entrepreneur in this day and age, I would say to them, take courses (both business and industry topics), attend conferences like Wedding MBA, The Special Event , Go West, volunteer to be on another wedding planner’s set up crew, join ILEA and make friends with really smart people who have done it before you, get a mentor or an accountability partner that you can trust, go back to school, learn online.
Q: Working in such a busy environment, how are you able to achieve a work/life balance?
Balance means different things to different people. Our industry is 24/7. I schedule both my family life and my work life simultaneously and it ebbs and flows depending on the time of year and what is on my plate. Sometimes work gets more of me and sometimes my family does. It varies. My philosophy is that whatever time I am spending with family or work, they get all of me when it’s their turn. Even if I only have an hour with my family one day, they get 100% of my attention for that hour.
I can say with confidence though that Sundays are off limits for work. My family looks forward to being together every Sunday. I am a very involved and devoted Dance Mom, so I do not personally head up any weddings that are around my daughter’s competition season each spring so I can be there wholeheartedly to support her. I also have an amazingly supportive husband who tag teams with me to hold down the fort when I am away from home. My husband and my daughter are very present in the LFW culture and are welcomed and loved by my staff.
I also have a terrific team at work who are all my mini “Intrapreneurs”. They own their stuff and are proud to wave the LFW flag out there in the world. They also understand when I am away with my family. I would not be where I am today without the passionate people like them. That respect, support and appreciation for the brand that they work with has made us the LFW family that we are today.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
To me, work is not what I do; it’s who I am. There is no line between them and they both coexist together. Sometimes in harmony, sometimes not.
There are so many empowering stories of powerful women in our industry that we couldn’t pick just one, part 3 of the "Women in Events" series we speak with Gillian Podlubny and Melissa Kon, two influential professionals from our team. We covered everything from building their career, overcoming obstacles, boosting their confidence and becoming the amazing leaders they are today.