During the pandemic, when limited events were permissible, I organized two styled photo shoots and asked a number of new local vendors to join me.

Heather MacArthur

Owner, Planner, Organizer

Location: Canada

Whether you’re moving into a new space, organizing your current space, hosting an event or planning a wedding, our goal is to help keep you rested and relaxed. We will work with you to coordinate all of the fine details so that you can enjoy more time with your family and friends. Our mission is to curate memorable events and design spaces that become a part of the client’s story.

Heather is certified in Conference & Event Management.  She is also a Trained Professional Organizer with the Professional Organizers of Canada.

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

Dealing with inclement weather. A few years ago a couple came to us with their Pinterest board, which was filled with lovely images of a backyard wedding and the starry sky above. Although the couple had a big enough yard to host their 150 guests, their vision did not include a tent. The compromise was finding a venue close to their home that would serve as the backup plan. This also meant that we had to be prepared to change the plans if the weather did not cooperate on the morning of the wedding. Thankfully the vendors were flexible and the weather was lovely so we ended up not using the backup plan, but it kept us on our toes.

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

a. Curated boxes for the wedding party and wedding guests. With an increasing trend in minimizing the guest list, couples are able to provide personal touches that would otherwise be too expensive with a large wedding. Curated wedding party and guest boxes would be designed to include everything that a guest might need for your wedding including a wedding favor.

b. Weekday events. A large number of events take place on Fridays and Saturdays, which means that there are a limited number of available dates. Hosting an event during the week opens up the options and it takes the pressure off the venue, vendors and coordinators, who in turn are more likely to offer the client a discount during the week.

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

a. The number one way to plan an event on a tight budget is to pick the number of guests wisely. The more guests you have, the more costs you will incur. This applies to food and beverage cost as well as extra costs for rentals, table décor, and guest gifts.

b. When hosting a corporate or fundraising event, solicit the services of a group of trained volunteers. There are always people who are willing to volunteer, the key is to attract trained volunteers and to set some time aside to go over all of the event details with them.

c. Pick a venue that matches your vision. Venues that are already stunning will require a lot less décor to make them look nice. While halls and recreation centers may be relatively inexpensive to rent, you may end up spending more money on décor to try make them match your elegant vision.

d. Double duty décor. Where possible, use decor that you already own or that you can borrow from friends and family. When reviewing your floral needs, consider silk or faux flowers and or greenery that can also be given as a guest gift or planted in the garden after the event.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

My ideal client would be able to provide me with their dream vision and then be able to provide me with the flexibility and freedom to proceed without a lot of oversight. The event would be incredibly personalized and thoughtful and give consideration to every guest in attendance. I would have the time to get to know each guest briefly so that I could curate individualized guest boxes for each of them. I would have the time to properly research all of the potential venues, vendors, and resources that would be required to execute the event seamlessly. It would also be environmentally friendly.

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

Having good relationships with vendors and venues is an extremely important part of my business. I make a point of visiting new venues and vendors every year, reaching out to them via social media or attending vendor shows. Working with someone is the best way to get to know them.

During the pandemic, when limited events were permissible, I organized two styled photo shoots and asked a number of new local vendors to join me. Having our work featured in a bridal magazine was a lovely way to celebrate our collective efforts.

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Fundraisers require a considerable amount of time, effort and planning. The first step would be to put together the A-team who can assist with various aspects of the event and determine the following:

• Define the purpose of the fundraiser and set a target goal.
• Pick a date and research it to see if there are other major events going on that might influence the number of guests who attend your event.
• Secure a venue and vendors including a caterer and a photographer. Be sure to tell them you’re hosting a fundraiser and inquire about discounts.
• Plan a marketing strategy for social media, TV, radio, email, and word of mouth. Design a hashtag, purchase promotional materials, and start advertising as soon as possible.
• Purchase any necessary remaining supplies and brief everyone involved in the event on the day-of activities and do a final walkthrough of the venue space, if possible.
• Set a follow up date after the event to discuss if objectives were met and potential ways of improving future fundraising events.
• Don’t forget to smile and have fun!

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

Hands down, the most unusual request I have received so far was to design and execute a Viking themed wedding on a tour boat. The sacrificial animal, a whole pig, was slow roasted and placed on display for the guests as they boarded. As part of a ritual at the ceremony, the pig’s blood was poured over a statue belonging to the bride and groom! Representatives of the boat were hesitant to allow this, but I carefully negotiated the couples request to fruition.

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