Graduate Feature: Neena McConnell
Jennifer Moher Photography
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, the gateway to “cottage country”. I have an extreme love for music and a passion to create art. I’ve always aspired to be my own boss like many generations before me. I come from a long line of female entrepreneurs, including my great-great-nanny, my nanny, and my mom.
Wayne Ferguson Photography
I have a background in English literature and media communications in addition to finance and budget management. Understanding numbers and knowing where your money is going is helpful when planning a wedding or event. I am also a graduate of the Canadian Institute of Floral Design.
Whenever I’m not designing and planning weddings or creating unique, bridal bouquets, you can find me on at my cottage at Kasshabog Lake with my husband and our Australian Shepherd.
My mantra is, “Keep it simple, yet significant”. This is how I choose to live my life and run my wedding planning business.
Why did you decide to become a wedding planner?
The job sort of picked me! I didn’t notice it at the time, but almost all of my previous jobs helped me decide to become a wedding planner. I’ve worked in flower boutiques, men and women’s formal wear stores, and banks and wealth management facilities. I took what I learned from each place and rolled it into one, and here I am!
I find weddings fascinating to plan as there are no two alike, and every couple is different. I wanted a career that was fast-paced, a little unpredictable, and extremely fulfilling. I can honestly say that I found what I was looking for.
Having graduated from QC’s Event and Wedding Planning Course as well as our Event Décor course, would you say you have caught the attention of more clients because of your additional training?
Catering: Perfect Platters Peterborough. Photographed by Wayne Ferguson Photography
Absolutely! I originally took the Event Decor course to further my knowledge of event and wedding planning; however, it opened many doors for me. Wallflower Events and Designs is a wedding and event planning company with expanded services in professional floral design and event decor. The purpose of the business is to provide a complete “one-stop-shop” service for all our clients.
Having a complete service for clients/prospective clients keeps everything under one roof. It allows my clients to have peace of mind when they hire me as their event decorator and wedding planner.
Can you describe your event decorating style?
I would describe my decorating style as rustic design with modern accessories. I love natural inspiration and raw and unfinished elements; however, I also enjoy a simple color palette with clean and crisp accents. I’m not a fan of clutter as I think it takes away from the event.
During the client consultation, I listen to their vision. From there, I build an inspiration board of ideas, color schemes, and accent pieces. We work together to build the event they’ve always imagined and give it life.
Can you tell us about your flower subscription service?
Wallflower Events and Designs’ flower subscription service is just taking off. It’s a side hustle to everything else I offer.
Last spring, I was sitting among several like-minded female entrepreneurs, and we were all discussing ideas about how to grow our businesses. Someone mentioned the idea of flower subscriptions and it stemmed from there. Whether it be a birthday present, Mother’s Day gift or “just because”, receiving flowers at any time of the year is such a personal and wonderful gift!
Wayne Ferguson Photography
I strongly feel the flower subscription service pairs well with the wedding planning and decorating services I provide. Flowers can be enjoyed at every occasion, not just at certain events. I do offer floral design services for larger events such as weddings, holiday parties, corporate events as well. But I’m launching the subscription service so that everyone can enjoy my designs.
Do you have any tips for event and wedding planning pros about sourcing budget-friendly flowers and floral design services?
My #1 tip for anyone looking to source budget-friendly flowers is to buy and support local. I do understand that in certain situations this cannot always be done; however, by buying from local growers, you are supporting a person and their small business. You will also avoid paying any unnecessary additional costs.
I have another piece of advice for couples: If decorative flowers are important to you, start budgeting for them early. If you’d rather spring for the very best wedding photographer or have the best-catered meal, then focus your budget on that. But, if you imagine a grand floral archway or an aisle runner made of rose petals, allot your budget accordingly.
Some blooms are more cost-effective than others. If you trust your floral designer, they will be honest about this information. If you have a vision that doesn’t fit into your budget, don’t be afraid to be honest! Work with your floral designer to find common ground and achieve your desired look.
What was the most difficult part about starting your event decor business?
Wayne Ferguson Photography
The most difficult part of starting my decor business was taking the plunge and going for it. A close second was my decision to build an inventory of decor items that spoke to my business and decorating style. I didn’t want my inventory to be based just off trends and what was considered “in” for that year.
Trends change with the seasons, and I made the decision to focus less on trends and more on classic and timeless wedding looks.
Why did you decide to attend an online wedding planning school over a physical school to earn your wedding planning certification?
Attending an online school allowed me to learn at my own pace in the comfort of my own home. I was able to work full-time, train a young puppy, plan my own wedding, and travel with my now-husband.
Travel has always been a high priority for me. By studying online at QC, I didn’t have to give up something that I loved to do. I vividly recall bringing my course materials on long flights to New Zealand and Italy. While everyone was watching movies or taking naps, I’d have my nose in books about color palettes and business planning!
Can you tell us about your wedding planning career highlights so far?
I’m the type of person where the last event I planned/worked is my favorite. Every event is unique and one-of-a-kind, and there is so much beauty in that.
Emma Arenault Photography, Wayne Ferguson Photography
One major career highlight for the 2019 wedding season was that I was challenged with the task of planning an entire wedding in just two months. This was something I hadn’t done before. With the help of an amazing team of vendors, we pulled it off and created a magical experience for both the bride and groom.
What do you have in store for your wedding planning business for the future?
I have a few things up my sleeve for the future of Wallflower Events and Designs that I’m not ready to share with the world just yet. It is an extremely exciting time for me and my small business!
Until then, you’ll see me at bridal shows and holiday markets for the remainder of this year. I will keep moving forward and keep growing. I am currently booking into the 2020 wedding season, and I can’t wait to see where I end up!