Show Notes: 016 The Local Vendor Series with Perfectly Designed Events

(Intro Music)

Welcome to Keeping it Candid – Wedding Photography Unfiltered for photographers who want to keep it real. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, international wedding and family photographer and educator with a Marie Kondo-style approach to running a business – you know, keeping things simple and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy!

More importantly, I’m a strong enneagram 3w2 who is obsessed with tacos, and my love for travelling plus navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner.

Join me twice a month for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer – where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends! So grab your favourite notebook and pen, and let’s dive into this week’s episode.

Sandra Henderson  00:56

Welcome Friends! We are back for day two of the local vendor series. If you’re tuning in for the first time and aren’t sure what this series is all about – let me give you a quick little summary. I connected with different vendors local to the London, Ontario area that I’ve had a chance to work with over the last few years, and we talked about things like why it’s so important to create that dream team vibe of vendors on a wedding day, how we can support and serve one another and some of the dos and don’ts that we’ve come across during our time in the industry. I hope that by starting these conversations, we can finally be done with the idea that other vendors are out to get us with negative intentions and ulterior motives on a wedding day and hopefully start creating a stronger community of people who are ready to support one another and show up to serve their couples in the best way possible. Today I’m joined by my friend Ally, who is the owner and lead wedding planner at Perfectly Designed Events. She specializes in full-service wedding and event planning to allow her clients to have the most seamless experience possible. And in the short time that I’ve known Ally, we’ve had the chance to work together a few times and I can tell you firsthand that she is amazing at what she does. Her passion for serving her clients and the vendors on a wedding day shows in every aspect, so I knew that she would be a perfect fit for this episode. 

Sandra Henderson  02:09

For some context, these interviews were recorded a while ago, like back when I first launched the podcast earlier this year! I actually plan on only doing one episode on this topic, but after I started having conversations with different vendors, I realized that it was just too good to condense down into one single episode. And so, The Local Vendor Series was born! At the beginning of Ally’s interview, we chat a bit about the podcast just launching. So I thought I would clear up any confusion before we get started.

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Sandra Henderson  02:38

Thank you for being my very first interview for the podcast. I’m so excited!

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  02:43

Oh my gosh, I’m so excited! I didn’t know I was the first!

Sandra Henderson  02:47

Yes, you’re my very first! I have a few others lined up for this episode and a couple others, but you are the first one. So thank you so much for being here!

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  02:55

Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. And congratulations on the podcast. 

Sandra Henderson  03:01

Thank you! All right. So why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself to get started? 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  03:07

Oh, absolutely. So my name is Ally. I specialize in full-service wedding and event planning in all of southwestern Ontario. So, I started planning events back in 2012. I lived in Edmonton, Alberta, and I started working for a kind of like a restaurant lounge that had a private loft space. So I started there as a host, and I kind of worked my way into an event coordination position. I absolutely loved it. So we did like a lot of book signings, we did Christmas parties, business dinners. It was a capacity of about 50, seated to 100 standing. So it was a lot of those more smaller business-related events. But I loved it. And then there was one time when we did one wedding, and it was fabulous. So I moved to London in kind of late 2013. And then I searched for a similar job and found out the hard way that that doesn’t really exist here. So I decided to get certified through the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada and I became a wedding planner technically in 2014. And I started I worked for a local day of coordinator in the area from 2014 until 2017. And then I decided to kind of branch out on my own and focus on full-service planning from start to finish. I really wanted to be a part of everybody’s you know, wedding day or event day, through the entire process and all of the booking, all the little details through the whole day. So I’ve been doing this now since kind of the end of the season of 2017. 

Sandra Henderson  04:51

Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so cool that you got to do book signings and things like that that must have been so different from planning a wedding!

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  04:58

It really was honestly it was so different. And I actually I have this one book from a book signing that I remember so specifically, but all of the events that we did kind of back then, I suppose, 10 years ago now, they were so, so different. And every day was different. Weddings are different, too. But you know, they kind of tend to follow the same, the same structure. And I do I like that. And I, I thrive in the consistency, but also making it, you know, the personalized day that everyone’s looking for. But yeah, I really enjoyed those. We did like, Super Bowl parties. We did a, like, I can’t remember if it was the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. But we had like a viewing night in the loft. And we turned all the TVs on. We had red roses, we made a kind of very bachelor themed and so many, so many different types of events. It was a lot of fun.

Sandra Henderson  05:49

So do you ever- you were saying about 10 years now. Do you ever feel like it’s weird to think that you’ve been able to be doing something that you can look back on it that long? Like sometimes I don’t feel like I’m old enough to have been in business for nine years. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  06:02

Right? I know, that’s actually something I think about often. When people look at me, so I’m 28. And I started this when I was 18 years old. And people look at me and they think like, Oh, you must, must have just started. And I’m like no, I’m, I’m somehow 10 years into this. And yes, I started when I was 18 basically kind of Straight Outta straight out of high school and I fell in love with, I fell in love with it.

Sandra Henderson  06:29

That’s so awesome. I love that. So over the last 10 years, what has your experience looked like working with wedding photographers?

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  06:38

I would say pretty much entirely positive that the wedding industry as a whole in London and area, and Southwestern Ontario in general. I find everyone to be, for the most part, very accepting and, and helpful. And I’ve had a really good experience overall, I do tend to get along really well with people who are also in the creative industry and like the creative side of weddings. So I tend to you know, I tend to really enjoy working with the photographers who have crossed paths with they found, you know, pretty much everyone to be really interested in collaborating and working together. Again, I know we’ve talked about it before, Sandra, but for kind of the common, the common goal of having a couple have the best day possible.

Sandra Henderson  07:23

Yeah, absolutely. Which is the takeaway that I hope everybody gets from this episode. Do you have any situations you’ve come across where it was like, please do this if you’re a wedding photographer, or please absolutely do not ever do this again, to me as a wedding planner?!

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  07:41

Oh, that’s a tricky one. I mean, I would say that the biggest thing that we occasionally come across is just remembering to treat everybody with respect. And I think that goes for kind of every category of wedding professionals and guests and couples and everyone as well. We’re all humans. And again, we’re all just looking to make this couple’s wedding day, the absolute perfect day, you know, so for me, I’ve spent years and hundreds of hours working on every kind of like little tiny detail and 99 points percent of the time all of the other vendors are have also put in a ton of work and they’ve really invested into this day, we’re all trying to kind of get there there is that, you know, hand a handful of times where there’s event vendors, sometimes photographers, sometimes someone else who they’re, what’s the best way to say it, they sometimes I think maybe the appreciation of the amount of work that others are putting into it as well, isn’t always there. We always know how much we’re putting in, right? And as a planner, I typically know how much everyone else is putting into it because I’m a part of that. But not everyone else, kind of you know, there’s makeup artists don’t often chat with the florists and I mean, of course, they do have some relationships and but it’s just not on a regular kind of standard wedding day, you, unfortunately, not all vendors get to interact in that kind of way to really understand, like, how much work has gone into it. So honestly, I mean, treating people with respect and I think it all goes back to the Dream Team and, and being able to kind of like work together to make sure that we’re making the best day for our couples but yeah, treating, treating everybody with respect is key. And I think one of the things that if I were to say like there was a please don’t, it would probably just come it would stem from that point of treating everyone with respect as planners and I’ve talked to many other, many other planners, I’ve got great relationships with the other planners in the province. And I know that we all deal with this to a certain extent but our largest challenge is negativity and frustration coming from other vendors because not everybody is realizing how much we’re balancing to try to make this day happen. You know someone requests X amount of time for hair and makeup and two hours for couple portraits, but then also the caterer needs this amount of time and, but the venue doesn’t have staff until this time, and they have to close it this time. But if we’re too early, then we can’t get a bus for our guests, there’s so much to balance. And that’s, that’s the biggest challenge as a wedding planner is knowing that you can’t please everyone. And honestly, you really can’t ever please anyone. Because you need to, as a, as a professional, it’s, you have to try to bring all this together and kind of make everybody compromise for the sake of the couple and kind of getting everything coming together. But then you’re also the bearer of bad news at all times. So I’m kind of the bearer of bad news to photographers and florists and the couple as well and their families trying to explain what’s possible and what’s not and why And I mean, the pl- I suppose I would love for people to kind of really get a good understanding of why, why we do the things that we do. And same thing when it’s the couples who are working without a planner, understanding why they’re doing those things, too, and why they may not be able to give the amount of timing that’s required, or the exact layout that is preferred, or the seating or all of those kinds of logistics, you’re balancing 20 to 30, different vendors preferences, and you know, contracts and the frustration, I totally understand where it comes from. But it’s, I mean, I think just having the respect for the people who are planning those as well and the couples to again, when there’s no planner, it’s so important. 

Sandra Henderson  11:34

That’s all so so true. I think it’s so important to just, for all wedding vendors across the board to realize nobody has any sort of negative intentions of the wedding day. No one is looking to screw another person over because we all have to work together. And so if, for, just for example, if you as the planner, were intentionally making it so that the photographer had less time, and you know, that was just like your priority, it was like, No, you can get it done, sorry about what your needs are, then your clients would not be happy with the vendor that you recommended for them. So like, it just doesn’t make sense to come into it thinking that you have no flexibility because, you know, this other person is just out to get you like, it’s definitely it’s such a huge puzzle with so many pieces like you were saying. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  12:25

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s so true. And I think it’s always just kind of taking that step back. And, you know, understanding why everyone wants what they’re asking for. And, you know, timing is I think probably the biggest challenge. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough hours in the day. And I have to, I’m trying to balance my clients’ wishes, you know, they don’t want to start before 8am. Well, that might not be awesome, because we need six hours plus for hair and makeup. But then we also need that time for capturing getting ready. And we need the detail time, then we need time for the first look and the ceremony, there’s just not enough hours in the day for everybody to be able to kind of get what they want. So I find so much of it is just kind of balancing, you know, the couple’s expectations, and then, you know, really trying to get to the bottom of which vendors need what and what we could kind of, you know how we could compromise to try to make it work for everyone, you know, can we add another stylist? Can we add a second shooter? Can we, you know, what can we do to try and make all of it, all of it work so that everyone is getting what they need? Because again, like you said, it’s all just to try to make this day the most perfect day for this couple. And I think that’s why the majority of us in the wedding industry have come here, like, we just we want to help people, we want to serve people and we want to see them happy on one of this, you know, these, this kind of greatest day of their lives. 

Sandra Henderson  13:47

I love all of that. And it’s so so true. So let me jump into the next question that I have. When it comes to wedding photographers showing up on the wedding day, we often get a lot of requests from other vendors that we have great relationships with and things like that to be able to provide photos. I think that’s a huge, huge conversation that I’m planning on saving for a later episode. But basically, I want to know, when it comes to a wedding planner… unless like, as I’ve learned more about what a wedding planner does, I know that you put so much work into like the design of the tablescapes and things like that. But even if you’re working with a decorator, a lot of times a wedding planner is creatively having so much input in how the design of the day turns out, which I don’t think- I know I just learned that recently. And so I think that there’s probably a lot of vendors who don’t realize that as well. But outside of the like, decor side of the day, there’s a lot of parts of what your job is that are not able to necessarily be photographically represented. So I wanted to know how photographers can show up in a creative and photographic way to represent what you do and serve you as a wedding planner?

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  15:04

Absolutely. That’s a great question. I do think that that’s actually one of the reasons why wedding planners and decorators get confused So often. I have inquiries, probably twice a week, asking for me to do decor and I explained that I actually partner with a ton of great decorators in the area and a lot of my weddings, they have decorators, too. That’s not necessarily me. But what is normally me, is that initial vision. So typically, what I do with my clients, is we work through a design process together. And that’s before we hire a decorator, a florist, or rentals. That’s before all of that. So typically, what we would do is once we start to kind of get our other vendors in place – photography, video, catering, hair, makeup, all of those elements that aren’t necessarily directly related to the design of the day, then we’ll do a venue tour, we’ll go through everything that they’re looking for  – kind of the theme, the style, any ideas that they have. And then I’ll put together a design plan. And that will include elements from rental companies, it will include elements from decorators, it will include elements for florists, I typically work with like four to five different rental companies and or decorators for each wedding. And I think that’s something that is, is really not realized at all by kind of those who are outside of this world of wedding – of being a wedding planner.

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  16:25

But yeah, so I mean, I think that one of the biggest things is, we put so much energy in so much time and effort into the smallest details. It’s, It’s so true, like beyond, like we were talking already about timing, beyond that, when we kind of move into the design portion of the day, that’s the only place where a wedding planners work can really be captured. The rest of our work is kind of the whole wedding together. But the only place where you can really ever see it in a photo is through the design. And one of the things that that I find is a lot of photographers, they do understand that and they, they want to get those, they want to get those photos, they, you know, they asked me what I’m looking for. And honestly, for the most part, I’m not ever looking for anything super specific. Sometimes they have a vision of maybe the couple on the dance floor with the whole room in the background. But for the most part, it’s you know, just capture it capture the day as it is, and, but get those detail photos. And I find that those get forgotten often are kind of looked over. And I don’t know if everyone kind of actually realizes how much it matters to the clients as well.

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  17:34

But you know, to give kind of a quick example, I’ve got an event coming up in May. And we have spent hundreds of dollars, hours, and probably three meetings talking about cocktail napkins. So what seems so small to kind of the outside eye like, to the guests are going to come they’re gonna see some cocktail napkins, it’s going to have their name on it, they’re gonna think, wow, those are really fun. But they don’t realize how much we went through to get there. The samples that we looked at, the multiple companies we talked to, looking at the, you know, font colors, purchasing the font we’re going to use, designing it, all of those little things for this one, well,  hundreds, but one tiny little cocktail napkin. And so I find that when it comes down to it, my clients, they do want to see that reflected in their images at the end of the day. For myself, that’s totally something I’d love to see as well. I mean, if I’m, if the photographer is willing to share the gallery with me, those are things I love to see, because those cocktail napkins, they’ve got a great story behind them. Like 20-plus hours of work for this one little thing. But yeah, I think just capturing all of the day is how photographers can best kind of serve planners and represent our work. And again, visually, unfortunately, there really, the only thing we can show for it is all of those little details but we put so much energy and so much effort into you know, getting washroom trailers booked and finding all of the best vendors, and we talked to 40 different photographers meet with seven of them before our clients pick the best one, and kind of all of those little, all of those little details but none of that is, unfortunately, able to really be represented in the physical work that we can see after. so I do find that that’s possibly why some planners and some decorators and other vendors are really wanting to see like, specific elements of the decor, and I know that some photographers, some photographers who I’ve worked with they see that you know they see the need for the detail photos, but things like those napkins would absolutely be overlooked. They, you know, they take a few – and I’ve definitely gotten some galleries back before where there’s three detail photos and, you know, at the end of the day, it is what it is but I would love for people to know also that the couples want that as well. And they may not know it at the beginning, or they may not know it when they kind of first book you and you have that conversation about what they want to see in their gallery. But once they go through it all, and you know, this client, for example, who’s had to talk to me about cocktail napkins for six months, I know that when she flips through her gallery and sees a quick snap of those cocktail napkins, she’s gonna have a little giggle, and it’s just all of those memories, and all of the little things that kind of bring everything together. 

Sandra Henderson  20:20

Absolutely. That’s such a great point about like, the memories leading up to the wedding day, I think like as someone who for the most part, planned my own wedding and worked with a day of coordinator, all of that, like all of what I remember is all the negative, like the stress and everything that went wrong, but when you have the little, the photos that will remind you of the, you know, the fun parts of the planning process – that’s so important, and something that you definitely don’t really think about in advance. And I think it really speaks to what you were saying before as well about just kind of like respecting that everybody had put so much work into it and unless you’re in the industry, yourself, you don’t necessarily know everything that’s going into it. So yeah, I think that’s a great way that photographers can show up and start, you know, not to say start being a part of the dream team, but like, just be a part of the dream team. Because, you know, we have so many people, it definitely is going to take effort from everybody. But speaking of the dream teams, what impact would you say it has for you and your clients and their overall experience when they do have a dream team of vendors that have worked together before and, you know, have a really great relationship outside of the wedding day as well? 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  21:32

Oh, my goodness, it feels amazing! It’s it, it leads honestly, to truly a flawless day. Because when you’ve worked together, and when you, you know, when you’re comfortable with each other, and you know each other and you know, I know how you’re going to act, you know how I’m going to act in any kind of issues that arise, because there will always be an issue, we’re able to easily and efficiently solve those problems. So on my end, it makes my day, so much smoother, I can focus a little bit more on the guests, I can focus more on the couple, I can focus more on the smaller details instead of trying to, you know, understand what everyone else is thinking and making sure that they have what they need. Because I know what, you know, I know what you need. So it’s honestly for myself, it’s so important. And it’s amazing to have that dream team come together and have everyone, again, respect each other’s work and what everyone has put into the day.

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  22:30

And then for the couple and for the family. Again, it just leads to a flawless day when you have the best, the best team around you, and a team that is excited to work together and they’re positive and they’re happy. It’s, It’s everybody’s favorite day, the vendors are having a great time, the guests are having a great time. And they can see that, you know, like the photographers happy, the planners happy, like everyone looks calm, everyone’s working together. And that’s how I feel that it should be for everybody, just again, like, you know, respecting each other and working together and compromising and just kind of making the day the best day that it can be for the couple.

Sandra Henderson  23:10

I love that so much. I love all of your answers. We’re just on such like, the same mindset when it comes to how wedding day, like I hate using the word should, but how wedding day should come together, it shouldn’t be a place where you know, people are competing for the same space or thinking that one priority is better than the other like, coming together with people, speaking from my own experience, that I have lots of experience working with, that I talked with outside of the wedding day. It just makes the day so much more enjoyable. But I realized recently how rare it actually is, it seems, because I was talking to a friend who, we were saying, like we both just booked the same client. And they seemed shocked that we not only knew each other but that we had such a great relationship outside of the wedding industry. And so it makes me think like, what are people seeing at the weddings that they’re attending as guests that this is such a surprising thing. So I hope to see more of this whole dream team vibe coming together as we continue on and what is hopefully going to start being more and more regular of wedding seasons compared to the last couple of years. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  24:17

Yes, oh my gosh, I hope so. But it’s so true. It’s when you have that great relationship. And when you’re comfortable working together, you’ve worked even if you haven’t worked together before, if you’ve communicated positively and you know, it just makes a whole day. Fantastic for the family, for the couple, for their friends. And it’s, it’s so true. I’d love to get to a place where that is just every event and there aren’t events where someone leaves feeling like they had to battle a different vendor all day and again for you know, for my team that that is rare, but I know that it’s happened before and I know that it happens to others, but you know getting to a point where we’re all working together and we can kind of put aside what We may, may need, I mean, not to the point where it affects our services, but to the point where it allows everybody to thrive together and not just, you know, not just one member. And that goes for us as well. Like, my team needs to always be aware that although we would love more time to move chairs And to do all of these little details, it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes we have to start at 6am so that we can be done by one o’clock so that you can shoot it. And it’s, that’s just how it is. And, you know, we try our best to make sure that we remember that too and we can always be compromising so that everybody as a, as a whole can work together for the day to go as smoothly as possible. 

Sandra Henderson  25:37

It’s so so important to stay flexible on a wedding day, I think regardless of what vendor you are, anything can happen. And so that’s a conversation that I have with my team as well. Like, you just kind of have to roll with the punches and like, don’t stress about anything that can happen.

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  25:54

Yeah, absolutely. And there’s, something always goes wrong. I’ve never had a wedding day out of the many, many, many weddings I’ve done, I’ve never had a wedding day where I was like, wow, that was flawless, nothing went wrong. Something always goes wrong. And they mean, that’s why most people hire us, because they know that things will go wrong, and so they think I’ll get someone to help. And then they realize all of the other things that we can help with too, in relieving stress along the way, and on the wedding day, working with everybody to just kind of resolve it, and they never know. But yeah, it’s so important to be able to work together so that the day is positive and happy, and loving. And that’s how it should be.

Sandra Henderson  26:29

Absolutely. I remember when I was planning my wedding, I like, in hindsight, definitely should have hired a wedding planner. I did work with the day of coordinator and my parents, specifically, like, thought that it was just the most unnecessary out of this world expense. And I will even say like, I traded part of my, the cost of my coordinator for photography services. So like I wasn’t even paying full price. And they just thought it was the craziest thing – until after the wedding day. And then they both kind of were like, Okay, no, that was probably the best decision that you could have made. And I so so agree, having someone else that’s there that can handle any of those little hiccups that go wrong, because they do go wrong. And things like that. Like it just it makes the day so much more enjoyable From the couple’s perspective. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  27:17

Absolutely. And for your parents as well in the family, I get that often where you know, the maid of honor or the mom or whoever they’re kind of on the fence about a planner, normally about partway-  halfway through the experience, when we’re talking about permits and licenses, that’s normally when it all turns around, and they’re like, whoa, we didn’t want to do that. But yeah, on the day itself, for those who do hire someone who is more of that, like day of, month of management planner, it’s just so important to have somebody there who is able to, to help you through all of that. And then also who’s able to work with your vendor team And make sure also that, again, everyone is compromising to make sure that we’re getting the best timing, and the best, the best shots and you know, getting it, getting it all organized together for the best day possible. 

Sandra Henderson  28:08

Yeah, absolutely. So one last question that I had for you – when it comes to recommending wedding photographers to your clients, what are some things that you are looking for specifically, whether it be you know, the look of their portfolio that they have a certain number of, a certain number of years experience under their belt? working exclusively with people that you’ve worked with before? How does that look for you? 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  28:32

Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. So with every vendor, so I specialize in helping my clients find every single vendor. So with photography, specifically, we start with a document that runs them through basically just basic editing styles. So just to get an idea of what kind of style they’re looking for their images to look like at the end of the day, are we looking for something that’s light, and it’s timeless? And it’s classic? And that’s going to match what we’re thinking? Are we looking for something maybe a little bit more, a little bit moody or a little bit with deeper tones? Like what are we looking for? So we start there, we get a really good idea of what they’re wanting to see at the end of the day. And then I ask them to rank, there’s 14 different areas, I ask them to rank them one to 14, everything from like couples photos together to candid guest photos to candid photos of them, posed photos, detail shots, getting ready photos, and I ask them to rank them all so I can get a really good idea of what they would like to see. And it’s so interesting, and I got I brought it up a little bit earlier but it’s very interesting to see which ones come in higher, more often. And I I would actually say that it’s those getting-ready photos are normally in like the top five areas. And so I always make sure that, to leave enough time there and that’s not a place where we’re rushing or Make sure that we’re recommending a larger package, or I’m searching for someone where a large package is within our budget. But I get them to basically break all that down for me. So I can see what’s important again, like if getting ready is number one, and sunset is number two, then we’re going to be searching for a longer package. But if those things are both at the very, very bottom, and like the ceremony, the wedding party photos or those were at the top, then that’s different than we may do it a little bit differently. So that’s where I start. So I first get an idea of the, of the editing style that they feel that they’re looking for. And then they get an idea of the type of photos that they’re looking for, including like more post photos, more candid photos, so I can understand what style of editing and then what style of photography they’re looking for, at the end of the day. From there, Honestly, I look at personality and portfolio. And that’s really all that it is For me, I don’t really worry about the years of experience, that is not really ever something that honestly crosses my mind. Same thing, people I’ve worked with previously, the only reason why I would say that I do tend to work with, you know, certain photographers more consistently is just because I know their personality And I know that them as a human is going to be a great fit for our vendor team. And it’s going to be a great fit for that couple. If I have like a really shy, really quiet couple, they’re really timid, I’m probably not going to pair them with an also quieter, more timid photographer, probably going to get them someone who’s a little bit more in the middle who was able to direct the day, not aggressively, but someone who is able to kind of leave that day for them. So that they’re feeling comfortable through everything. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  31:37

So I mean, ultimately, we start by understanding the styles that they’re looking for, and then how much time we need. And then from there, we can understand who personality wise is going to be a good fit for them. And then again, typically, you know, pricing is what would come next. And then that would be based on the hours that were required, paired with style, paired with, you know, with everything else to kind of get them those best options. So typically, I reach out to about five vendors in every category to check for availability and pricing. And then typically, I will present two to three of each vendor to my clients so that they can really get a good idea of the options out there for them who I already feel are going to be the perfect fit personality-wise, they’re a great fit, you know, for them in terms of what they said they were looking for style-wise, and they fit with their budget. So basically, then it just comes down to who they feel is the best person for them. And we typically set up meetings where they’ll just they’ll talk and I sit back and I just listen. And you talk all about your process and what they’re looking for. And then we get to a point where they’re torn, because again, their search has been narrowed to three people who I don’t think they could really go wrong anyway. And then I tell them that it’s all just at that point, it’s kind of down to personality. And you know, everyone is beautiful, and everyone is wonderful. But it’s who do you want to spend those 10, eight to 10-plus hours with on your wedding day, like who do you feel comfortable with. And I want my couples to surround themselves with every vendor who will make them feel calm and relaxed, and you know, at peace and happy with their day.

Sandra Henderson  33:20

Yeah, that’s so important is having like your dream team of vendors being calm, cool, and collected through the whole day. So, so important. And I love how thorough your process is to recommend photographers to your clients. I saw a lot when I was, more when I was first starting out in the industry, that there was a lot of couples who would hire a photographer with the assumption that all you need to do is press a button and you can do whatever style I want from there. And you like, my I always go to like, food and restaurant examples When I talk about things like this as an analogy, when you go to McDonald’s, and you order a hamburger, you’re not going in expecting the quality of the Keg for like something that you would order there. And so you have to kind of like have an understanding when you’re searching for a wedding photographer that you want to look at the style that you want, and hire someone who already does that style and that thing that you’re looking for, as opposed to just hiring any photographer and getting a light and airy photographer when you really want dark and moody photos. 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  34:27

Yeah, exactly. And that’s why that’s kind of the place that I start. And I find, you know, some couples have an idea, but some couples really, they don’t know. And they’re kind of at the point where they’re just not even sure what direction to go in. And at that point We’ll talk them through that as well And we’ll, we’ll talk about you know what kind of photos they like to see, what photos do you hang in your house like, talk to us about that. And it is a very thorough process and it’s like that with every vendor, which I suppose is why it takes me so long to plan each wedding. But we want to make sure that they’re getting The right person the first time. it happened a lot through COVID, But even in regular times, we’ve had a lot of people who have hired us kind of partway through their process And they’ve, you know, maybe hired a handful of vendors, and they get there And they think we hired this person because they did our friend’s wedding, or we hired this person ’cause we saw them on social media And we thought it looks good So we just did it. But we’re kind of getting into it now And we’re understanding that maybe that’s not what we’re looking for, again, because they thought you could just kind of, you know, point, shoot, and away it goes. And that’s definitely a large misconception. I think we’re getting a little bit better or getting a little bit away from that. But, hopefully, but yeah, it’s so important to me that we’re finding the right person the first time and that there’s never a moment where any of my couples are feeling any kind of like regret or they’re second-guessing, or they’re worried about the wedding day And it’s you know, I’m, I’m the first person to say that not everyone is the best fit for everybody. Like, I know that there are many couples out there and our personality, or personalities, where it just might not mesh together. And that’s okay because there’s going to be a wedding planner for you. I know there is, I will help you find them. But it’s you know, it’s so important to just make sure you’re getting those right people. And so for me as the planner, it’s extra-extra important to make sure my clients are getting those right people right from the beginning. 

Sandra Henderson  36:24

Yeah, exactly. So so true. So important. I love that. All right. Well, that wraps up everything that I have. Thank you so much. That was absolutely amazing. And I just want to ask before we wrap things up, where does everybody find you on social media? 

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson  36:39

Yes, absolutely. So @perfectlydesignedevents. I am on, primarily most active on Instagram, you can also find me on my website Through there you can see all of my portfolio on there as well as the different services that we offer. And again, we focus on full-service wedding and event planning. So we aim to be a part of the process kind of from the very, very beginning, all the way to the end. And within that, we have customized packages to make it kind of work best for our couples in their budget, but our goal is to be there the whole way.

Sandra Henderson  37:15


Sandra Henderson  37:16

Okay, before I wrap up today’s episode, if you’re listening to this in real-time, you know it is Black Friday week! make sure you’re following me on Instagram all week long, And if you are not that’s @simplysandrayvonne because I am sharing discounts on all of my favourite business systems and services. contracts from the legal Paige, website templates from the Tonic Site Shop, gallery sites, CRMs, and so much more. If your business needs a little TLC over your off-season this year, now is the perfect chance to take advantage of all the savings available.

(Outro Music)

Thanks so much for listening to Keeping It Candid: Wedding Photography Unfiltered with Sandra Henderson! You can find full show notes from today’s episode at In the meantime – let’s connect! You can find me on Instagram @simplysandrayvonne, and on Facebook in the Wedding Photography Unfiltered community! If you’re loving this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave me a review!

Until next time!

Ally Lightfoot-Atkinson from Perfectly Designed Events
Website |
IG | @perfectlydesignedevents

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About Ally

Ally is the Owner & Lead Wedding Planner at Perfectly Designed Events, serving all of Southwestern Ontario. We specialize in full-service Wedding & Event Planning to allow our clients to have the most seamless experience possible, designing every little detail to ensure that your event is perfectly yours, and full of unforgettable moments.

ally from perfectly designed events setting a table for a wedding at cranberry creek gardens

November 22, 2022

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