I have had time to think about what I want to do with my business moving forward and am using this time to build my portfolio with other types of events.

Chantal Valkenborg

Owner

Location: Kingston, Ontario

I have been working in events for over ten years. These have ranged from academic events and conferences, to weddings and festivals. I have a BAH and MA in art history from Queen’s University and completed a diploma in event management certified by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2016 while living in the UK.

During my time in the UK I had the amazing opportunity to work on Pride in London. I worked specifically as a liaison between Prides throughout the UK and towards creating an accessible Pride for all. In 2016, at our first attempt, we achieved Silver Certification with Attitude is Everything.

I subsequently moved back to Canada in the summer of 2017 and shortly thereafter my partner and I welcomed a baby boy into our family. Having a year to reflect on my career helped me realize that it was the perfect time to start my own business.

In the summer of 2018, I helped plan the annual Kingston Multicultural Arts Festival – hosting 22 cultural associations, coordinating 12 performances on the main stage and 6 free art workshops for up to 8,000 visitors. I currently work on events with Advancement at Queen’s University.

What makes me stand out as a wedding planner? My organizational skills and knowledge. My love for my job. Most importantly, my commitment to you, your vision, and your goals.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

I have to say that the COVID pandemic has been the biggest challenge I have ever had to face while planning events. I have spent the last year and a half replanning and rescheduling the same weddings that I have been working on since 2019. I have struggled to stay motivated, creative, and inspired throughout the constant lockdowns and changes in restrictions.

BUT I have also had the opportunity to spend more time with my clients and get to know them better. I have had time to think about what I want to do with my business moving forward and am using this time to build my portfolio with other types of events (such as virtual and hybrid).

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

The smaller more intimate weddings are so exciting! I am loving the opportunity to get more creative with decor and entertainment. I also love how the couple get to spend more quality time with their guests, feel less rushed throughout the day, and have more time to take it all in.

Streaming weddings for your guests from around the world who cannot make it (for whatever reason: budget, health, etc.).

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

I always tell my couples that their guests will remember how they felt, the food/drink, and the party. At the end of the day they won’t remember the colours, the flowers, or what was on the tables. So when you are on a tight budget you concentrate on the things that will make the best experience for everyone (and the photographer!)

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

They are SO important! Your vendors are your key partners when working on weddings. I think the key to a successful relationship is clear communication (and expectations) and mutual respect.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

I am really looking forward to seeing where this business takes me. It has already introduced me to so many amazing people (clients and vendors) and keeps me creative, inspired, and excited. The big dream is to one day own my own event venue.

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?

I probably talked about starting a business for about 10 years before I actually took the leap. It was 2018, after having my son, and we had just moved back to Canada from the UK. I was applying for jobs everywhere with no luck and so I decided that if no one was going to hire me I was going to create my own job. Today I have a full time job in events at Queen’s University in addition to running my business. I like it because then my business can remain the creative outlet and be fun without the pressure of having to make enough money to support my family. I can continue to build it at my own pace on my own terms.

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