Planning your special day – Metro US

Planning your special day

Professional wedding planner Leah Elliott is a master of keeping her cool but when that fateful day of vows and kisses comes, she still cries every time.

Elliott, owner of Elan Wedding Consultants Inc., started the company in 2001 but had never thought of herself as an entrepreneur. She previously worked in administration and got into wedding planning by accident as a favour to her friends. Eventually she got so many requests that she figured it was time to go professional.

“I got to a point where I figured I have to start charging!” she joked.

As a wedding planner Elliott says her job is to take away all the stress and challenge of organizing the details of a wedding and let the happy couple instead focus on visualizing their dream wedding. Unlike the stereotype of some fussy old lady who thinks she knows what’s best for a couple, Elliott says she is only interested in making sure the day goes exactly the way a couple wants.

“My main goal is to make sure the client is happy. I’m there to guide people and to make suggestions but I leave the final decisions up to the couple. People who know what they want are very easy to deal with — it’s only when people are indecisive that it’s hard,” Elliott said.

Elliott does most of her wedding planning in Toronto, London and Ottawa and she plans to keep it that way so she can oversee matters in-person and keep a high level of service quality. She says planning weddings in a city like Toronto keeps her job exciting because the city is such a melting pot and each wedding can be full of surprises. Case in point: For one wedding, Elliott brought an elephant into Toronto’s Yorkville area.

“There are so many cultures in Toronto that it keeps it fresh. I enjoy that,” she said.

Unlike many planners who charge a percentage of the total wedding budget as their fee, Elliott only charges a flat fee and warns people to accept nothing less from a reputable planner.

“Charging a percentage of your budget is a conflict of interest — what’s the incentive to keep costs down?” she said.

Working so closely with a bride and groom often means Elliott still gets emotional on a wedding day, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve always said the day I stop crying at weddings is the day I quit.”