Being a successful business owner is important, but not as important as the people in your life, your health, and your well-being.
Heather Canada

Heather Canada Randall

Master Wedding Planner

Location: Jacksonville, FL

First Coast Weddings and Events was founded in 2002 with the mission to create stylish, fun, and memorable weddings on Florida’s First Coast. We realize that every couple is unique, and every wedding should be too. Our entire team is trained in event logistics, managing vendors and wedding protocol to ensure our clients receive the most professional service possible.

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

The easiest way to trim overall wedding costs is by cutting the guest list! Reducing your headcount by 10 people can mean 10 fewer people in your food and beverage counts, one less table linen, one less centerpiece, five or more invitations, etc. You could save $100 or more for every person you remove from your guest list! Having a more intimate wedding also allows you to spend more time with each guest.

Choosing a venue that provides tables, chairs, tablecloths, food, and beverage (such as a hotel or country club) can often be more cost-effective too. This will allow you to spend more on decorations to personalize the space.

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

Relationships are everything in this industry! Not only will you benefit from referrals from those vendors you work with frequently, but it’s important to know you can trust your team if something doesn’t go as planned on the wedding day.

Communication is the key to building and keeping vendor relationships. Whether it’s at networking events, collaborating on styled shoots, or staying in constant contact leading up to an event, all of our communications lead to creating successful events together as a team.

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

In 2022, First Coast Weddings and Events will be celebrating its 20th year! I feel like this is quite an accomplishment, and we will mark this milestone throughout the year.

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 had worked in the hospitality industry in theme parks, hotels, and country clubs prior to starting First Coast Weddings and Events in 2002, so I had a pretty good foundation of experience. I also studied business administration in college, preparing me to run a business, not just plan events. I knew that I wanted to be my own boss, and when the time was right I moved into a part time job so that I could focus on building my business. Because I was already connected to others in the industry through my previous jobs and through associations like NACE and ABC, it didn’t take long to start getting referrals from my peers.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

I wish I had known not to let my business take over my life. I worked all hours of the day and night, and my personal relationships suffered because of it. Now I have clear boundaries set, both with my clients and myself – for working hours, the number of events I personally will handle in a time frame, and even the number of networking events I will attend each month. Being a successful business owner is important, but not as important as the people in your life, your health, and your well-being.

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