Making Moments Count
Jennifer Kinal, voted Best Wedding Planner in Canada, shares how she found success in the special moments of others
Monday, Nov 04, 2013 04:17 pm
When browsing through Jennifer Kinal's online portfolio, there is an evident pattern – resplendence, detail, and charm. Striking floral arrangements, delicate complimentary lighting, and romantic intricate details come together to form a real-life dream, a scene seemingly lifted from the page of a wedding magazine. Just looking at the images brings an aura of astonishment across the face of the viewer, and that look is merely a prelusion to the reactions her work creates in person.
“That's the most rewarding thing,” she says, when asked what her favorite aspect of her craft is. “Seeing the room when its done, and then seeing the bride and groom's reaction, or the host's reaction. They walk in and you can see it written on their face, that what they were picturing in their mind is now in front of them. That's an amazing feeling.”
From extensive wedding ceremonies to corporate events and themed celebrations, Jennifer has lent her magic touch to numerous events in the Edmonton area. Upon seeing her work, it would be easy to assume that this is what she was meant to do. But Jennifer says her career path wasn't always a clear, straightforward avenue.
“I went to school to become a graphic designer,” she explains. “But decided it wasn't what I really wanted to do. So from there I worked for a food company in their marketing department. I organized their trade shows, which were big events held at Northlands. That was my first introduction to event planning, and that kind of sparked my interest.”
After planning a wedding of her own, and being heavily involved in all the fine details, Jennifer felt she had found something that struck her creative chord. In 2007, she started her business Fresh Look Event Management.
“I finally found something that I loved. I've always been the kind of girl that needs to love what I do, and I just wasn't entirely happy in the positions I had before. I was always looking on to the next thing.”
The venture of beginning her own business was one that Jennifer admits came with a significant learning curve, but that she feels was worth the effort.
“It's a matter of learning as you go,” she says. “You need to figure out how to start your business, you need to figure out how to promote your business, you need to figure out the website, and how SEO works. It's definitely a learning process. I'm still always reading books and articles about how I can improve – wedding magazines, design books, business books. I don't think that will ever stop.”
But while the process is one that requires elbow grease and determination, Jennifer's efforts have more than paid off, earning her Best Wedding Planner in Canada at the Wedding Industry Experts Awards this year. And while her flair for décor played a huge part in her recognition, Jennifer's approach to business may have played an even bigger role in her being nominated in the first place. Jennifer does not know who submitted her name for consideration, but it is likely that is was a satisfied customer.
“I always want to make sure my customers are informed on my choices and in every thing that I do so that way nothing comes back or comes as a surprise,” she says. “I make sure clients approve things all along the way. I create inspiration boards that I can show them so they know what I'm thinking for their wedding, and they approve those as well. It's really about keeping in contact and having an open discussion, that's what makes the bride feel comfortable and confident. It's when she calls the planner and no one answers the phone that she starts to panic.”
It's this attention to the customer, combined with her unprecedented attention to decorating details, that makes Jennifer the perfect fit for her job.
“I do tend to get a little too passionate,” she admits. “I get so creative that all of a sudden my housework isn't done and my family is eating out for dinner.”
With two children under the age of four, and a marriage of her own, finding time for all aspects of her life can become a juggling act, but Jennifer says she has learned not to focus too much on the little details when it comes to her home life, opting instead to focus on what matters most.
“I try to make sure my kids get their time, my husband has his time, I have my own time, and then there's work time as well. It doesn't always work out to be a perfect schedule, as much as I would like it to be. But as long as I'm doing what I love, and my family is supporting me and I'm supporting them, then that's what really matters.”
With such a strong sense of dedication evident in all aspects of her life, it is no wonder that Jennifer is able to pull off world class weddings, breathtaking banquets, and classy corporate events that leave her customers satisfied and thankful. And it is that key ingredient that Jennifer says any bride, or event host, should look for when choosing an event planner.
“Meet with them, talk with them on the phone, see if your personalities connect,” she advises. “Sometimes two great personalities just don't come together and work the way you'd expect. Make sure their work reflects the style that you are envisioning. You have to be confident that they can make your dream come true.”