ASK A WEDDING VENDOR: HONOUR & BLESSING EVENTS
We virtually sat down with Sarah and Joanna of Honour & Blessing, an Event Planning company based in Vancouver, BC known for creating lavish, refined and stress-free celebrations.
Photo by Nadia Hung Photography
How was Honour & Blessing Events created?
This is one of our favourite stories to tell and we are always happy to share about it! Growing up,
weddings and events have always held a special place in our hearts as we were part of many weddings and events. We’ve always been especially fascinated by the work that goes on behind the scenes. Whether it’s weddings or things like fashion shows and corporate events that we had a chance to be a part of. However, both of our studies and careers took us in a different direction.
It wasn’t until a couple from our church just got engaged and was thinking about their wedding when we were settling back in Vancouver after living in other cities. A few weeks after they announced their engagement, they approached us to help plan their wedding that was happening in 4 months. We were a bit taken aback because we only knew them as acquaintances, we haven't planned one before, and there are other people at church who have wedding planning experience. But they told us, and we find it very interesting, their reasoning. They wanted two people as planners, preferably sisters, who had a great dynamic with each other.⠀And because of their unreserved trust in us, we planned our very first wedding.
Right after that wedding was finished, the photographer came up to us and asked us if we had a wedding planning company. When we told them we didn’t, they said we should seriously consider doing wedding planning full time and start our own. But we didn't think it was the right time and thought maybe they were just being kind and sweet, so we didn’t think too much of it. After that we planned yet another wedding and the same thing happened. This time the florist took us out for coffee and said the same thing. One thing led to another, and with all the support we received from vendors we previously worked with, we felt it was then the right time to take a leap of faith and start Honour and Blessing Events.
We love that you're a sister duo! What is it like working alongside family?
Thank you so much! We actually find it interesting how either people find it wonderful that we are a sister duo while others cannot believe we are able to work together since we are siblings! We know that this arrangement might not be ideal for some siblings, but for us, it actually works very well!
We’ve always gotten along as we were growing up and we also did a lot of things together, like playing duets together on the piano. We think that those duet practices help us become more in sync with each other without the use of words. Many times we don’t need to say anything and we know what the other one is thinking. This helps a lot, especially on the wedding day, when we are taking care of different parts of the wedding but we know intuitively where and what the other one is doing. We also understand each other well and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we are able to do things more efficiently and produce better work.
What services do you offer?
We offer a few different services depending on what our client is looking for. For weddings, we offer 4 different options; Event Design, Intimate Wedding (for 10 to 20 guests), Full Planning, and Destination Wedding. For those who are looking for other types of events, we also do proposals, baby showers, 100 day celebrations, and also corporate events.
What are the benefits of hiring a wedding planner?
Hiring a wedding planner has a number of benefits and while there are so many of them, we would like to highlight 3 of these benefits.
First is from the point of view of design and namely, cohesiveness. A wedding planner is able to design a wedding for you that is your style but is cohesive throughout. From the invitations to the florals to the colours, everything flows together beautifully. Oftentimes couples might have some idea or thoughts on what they would like their wedding to include, but don’t know who to make everything look beautiful together as one. That is where wedding planners are able to help greatly as they have a lot of experience in styling and choosing what will work best together. Wedding planners will also advise omitting or adding certain elements to the wedding to make sure the design is smooth and beautiful.
The second benefit, which is a big one, is saving time. When you have a wedding planner, they not only take the stress from you, but also saves you a lot of time. There is a lot of time that is needed to do research for vendors and items, communicating with all the different people involved with your wedding, and of course designing your wedding. Instead of having to do all of the hard work and spend hours looking through reviews and portfolios to determine if their styles and personalities are a good fit for you, a wedding planner can handle it for you. Wedding planners typically have worked with a variety of vendors so they already know who will work best for a particular style or know what their working style is like.
Last but not least, reassurance. Having a wedding planner gives a couple reassurance not only throughout the planning process, but also on the day of. During the planning process the couple can trust that the planner knows exactly what needs to be done and by when. They can relax knowing that the planner will take care of all the details and they don’t need to worry about missing anything. On the day of the wedding, the planner is there to make sure everything runs smoothly so the couple can focus on their guests and loved ones. The last thing a couple should be thinking about on their wedding is logistics and if things are ready for them and their guests. Especially after 2020, with the pandemic and how it has affected so many weddings and events, what a couple needs is the reassurance that there will be a backup plan and that someone can handle all the changes for them. Whether it’s a date change, readjusting the planning and design due to the changes in the guest list, or contacting all the vendors, a wedding planner is the one that will take care of it all.
How do you help your couples choose their other wedding vendors?
Usually what we do is we get to know what our couple is looking for in terms of style and budget. Once we have that information, we come up with a list of vendors that we think will best fit their wedding. After that the couples usually take a look at the work of the vendors we have suggested and decide if it’s some one they would like to move forward with and see if they are available for their wedding. Sometimes couple want a little more assistance choose vendors so we will go through the pros and cons for each one and help them choose the best fit.
How do you involve your couples in the planning process?
I think a misconception that some people might have is that once you have a wedding planner, you can’t have fun and enjoy the excitement of planning because the planner makes all the decisions. For us, that is absolutely not true, we involve our couples in most, if not all of the process. The biggest difference is that we do the hard work of researching, communicating and of course the creative design process. We always check in with our couples whenever a decision needs to be made to make sure they are happy with everything. We also encourage them to let us know what they don’t like, so we have a better idea of how we might be able to find or change it to something that they would like.
Of course we also have couples that have a very busy lifestyle and would rather us make the majority of the decisions so that they don’t have to spend too much time in the planning. We really believe that engagement is a special chapter in a couple’s journey and we want them to enjoy that time being a fiancee or fiance.
How have you adapted your business/offerings during the pandemic?
There have been quite a number of changes due to the pandemic. I think one of the changes that we have had to make very early on is how we are meeting our clients. We typically meet our clients in person, but since the lockdown, we have moved all meetings online.
In terms of our services, we started doing a lot more elopements and intimate weddings for our couples. We have also had to adapt to a lot of last minute changes due to restrictions and sometimes worked with our couples to separate their wedding into two dates, one ceremony and one reception.
What advice do you have for couples re-planning their wedding after having to postpone?
Some tips and advice we will give to couples replanning their wedding is to stick with a smaller wedding. I think there are some couples who do want a big wedding with overseas guests and having big celebration, especially after all the difficulties we had to go through in 2020. However, I think for 2021, Vancouver at least, it not quite ready for that. Keeping your numbers to 100 guests or less will minimize the need to change your wedding arrangement this year, and if there are sudden additional restrictions and changes, it will be easier to notify your be easier to redo things with a small guest count.
Another thing we will suggest is to communicate a lot with your venue/vendors and also to know what their flexibility is like if there are to be changes made due to restrictions. If you already have a planner, then they should be able to take care of all that for you. If you don’t have a planner, we suggest that you make sure you communicate well with your vendors and venues to ensure that there are no miscommunication and surprises.
Where do you draw inspiration from when designing a wedding?
We are both big foodies and we love to travel. So these are things that always inspire us and help us in being creative in our design and styling process for weddings. We believe traveling is such a wonderful thing, and to experience another city and culture can really help with our creative process.
What wedding trends are you predicting for 2021?
I think a wedding trend that we are predicting for 2021 is small and more intimate weddings. Of course part of that might have to do with the fact that there are restrictions still in place. However, there is a lot of beauty in having an intimate celebration and I think more and more people are recognizing that.
Another trend is a focus on the guest experience. If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that things can change in an instant and we should cherish those who are near and dear to us. We anticipate more couples spending more so that their guests can have a better time celebrating with them. It’s a little less about just the couple having the best day of their lives, but also wanting those who are there to truly enjoy the experience.
What's the most unique wedding you've ever planned?
One of the most unique weddings we’ve ever planned was a lavish wedding celebration at Hycroft Manor. It was a very beautiful wedding, but other than the beauty there are few things that made this unique. One unique point is that the bride is actually a wedding planner herself! It was so fun and interesting to work with her since she understood a lot of the processes and really trusted us. On that note, the second reason why it was unique is because our bride was halfway around the world for the entire planning process. We met up in person once and after that she trusted us to go to the tastings, and other things and gave us so much creative freedom. Last but not least, and also one of our favourite parts of the wedding, she had a perfume bar for her guests! While other weddings might have dessert bar, our bride loves scents and wanted something fun for our guests. So we suggested a perfume blending bar where her guests were able to create their own personalized perfume. It was very well loved and all the guests had a wonderful time.
What's your favourite part of the wedding planning process?
Our favourite part of the wedding planning process is when we present the design concept to our couple and they tell us “that’s exactly what I wanted!”. It’s a special moment when we know we have truly understood what our couple has been dreaming of and was able to put that into their wedding design.
What is the most challenging part of being wedding planners?
One of the most challenging parts of being a wedding planner is when we aren’t able to source certain things for weddings. Oftentimes we will have certain items or design elements we want to incorporate into the wedding. Perhaps a particular kind of chair, or a certain colour of linen. However, the reality is that often times these things are not available to us in Vancouver. Compared to a lot of rental companies or venues in the States or in Europe, the selection here is a bit more limited so we often need to compromise and choose something similar that is available here.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career path?
We remember when we first started a well established vendor told us her experience and throughout the years she said the most important thing is kindness. Likewise, we think this is the best advice we can give to someone considering this career path. Be kind to others, and also to yourself - to give yourself the time to figure things out and learn along the way.
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Sarah and Joanna! We highly recommend following these incredibly talented ladies and visiting their website to see more stunning weddings!
Tale of Tulle, Canadian Wedding Magazine