It feels like it has been forever since I have had a moment to sit and reflect on business, even as I type this, I am counting down to the next meeting, and thinking of all the things on my list for the day, and the week, and the month.
Over the last two months, I have been extra busy managing the Creston Valley Farmers' Market, and writing for I Love Creston magazine. Both of these felt and continue to feel like natural extensions of the work I have already been doing through AM Event Coordination, and have been filling my spare moments. While learning the ropes of those new endeavors, I worked to balance my work and personal life, as we unexpectedly had to say goodbye to one of our two dogs, and then only a few weeks later, I faced the one year anniversary of my dad's death. As always, this amazing community rallied around myself and my family, sending love, hugs and warm thoughts. I anticipated I would need some time to grieve and be gentle with myself leading up to that awful anniversary, and being able to distract my mind with the Farmers' Market and the magazine made things a little easier.
I am really excited to share the news of another new venture. Last week I officially took on the role of Self-Employment Program Counselor with Community Futures. This role feels like another natural place for me to land, as it seems all I talk about is business, self-employment and entrepreneurship. I am so thankful to be given this opportunity, especially because the Self-Employment Program inspired, pushed and assisted me as I navigated the early days of starting AM Event Coordination. I only hope that I can be half as helpful in this role, as the role was helpful for me.
With all these new and exciting challenges in my world, I have been asked what comes next for AM Event Coordination. This is a question I have asked myself over and over for a few months now. After my dad died, I had planned to take a break, but that break never really came. I found myself working hard at my business as a way to manage my grief, and after almost a year, was pretty exhausted, but the work is a part of what kept me sane. After an incredibly busy summer, I was able to step back and think about which events filled my heart with the most joy, and that answer came to me pretty quickly - weddings, fundraisers for causes close to my own heart - the happy events. And so I have started working to choose which events I take on based on the amount of joy they bring me. I have worked to remind myself that I cannot say yes to everything, and that I don't have to say yes to everything. I know how lucky I am to find myself in this place where I am able to pick and choose which events I want to participate in, and am thankful every day that I am in such a luxurious place.
And speaking of thankful, I received an email yesterday I was not expecting, letting me know that AM Event Coordination has been selected as one of the best in the Kootenay Business Magazine's 2019 Best of Business awards! We are so excited to accept the Bronze award for Wedding Services/Supplies in East Kootenay! I hadn't even realized we were nominated, so it feels like an extra honour. And the timing is a good reminder not to lose my momentum, although with three events this week alone, I think I've still got it.
When we moved to Creston, I was surprised by the number of people working two and three different jobs. So many people that I met in town held a job, or sometimes two, while also running their own small business (or businesses!!). My intent when we got here was to get one job, and go to work every day. Once I started AM Event Coordination, I knew it was a luxury to be able to run this business, doing things I love doing, with and for people I enjoyed working with, and not have to work a second job to keep going. Being able to concentrate fully on my business and my clients has been so rewarding, and at times, has been the thing that has kept me moving forward.
Following my dad's death in October last year, I told myself I would take a break for a couple of months to allow me time to breathe and to grieve. I didn't do that. Instead I launched myself even harder into it, with barely a break from November until now (and things are still going strong, with events happening every weekend between now and September 28th!). And I needed the distraction of work to move forward. I needed the smiles of people living their best lives. I needed the brides, and the grooms, the families and friends. I needed the deadlines and emails and phone calls and checklists. And I still need them. But I am starting to wear myself out! Which is why I am super excited about the things that are happening right now!!
The first big thing bringing me a ton of joy is my new role as temporary Farmer's Market Manager! I am so thrilled to be filling in for Rylee as she begins her journey into motherhood. It feels like a perfect fit because every Market is an event, but one that follows a set checklist. It means I get to be a part of a weekly event I not only enjoy attending, but also believe in. I get all the fun of planning something, and I get to see the happiness on the faces of vendors and patrons, but the "work" follows a pattern that is familiar. I got to attend my first Market this past Saturday, and I already know my temporary role will end too soon. I had so much fun, and the day just flew by. It is just such a great place to be.
If the Farmers Market role doesn't make me feel lucky enough, I have also recently started writing for I Love Creston magazine. I was aware of the publication from the time that we moved here, since I've seen it all over town. AM Event Coordination appeared in an article in the summer edition of the magazine for our work organizing the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event in June. And now, I am so happy to be able to meet and talk to local business owners and event organizers and non-profit groups I may not otherwise have a chance to spend much time with, and find out about their passions and journeys. I love being able to meet all these inspirational people, and not only learn about them, but share their stories with others as well.
I realized the other day, I am suddenly one of those Creston people doing a hundred different things. And these "jobs" don't feel like jobs at all. I've heard myself say I will take a step back from events for October and November, although I know myself, so that might not be something I can actually do. So for now, I am counting myself lucky to be able to be doing so many things that bring me joy, remaining open to all the things to come, and looking forward to future!
I have a confession to make... I am not someone who regularly attends community or public events (aside from those I organize of course!). In my "real" life, I am the kind of girl who goes to bed at 8:30pm, wakes up at 5:00am, and if I am not careful, can be an awful recluse. While I love hosting and entertaining, and love parties even more, I feel like I am more the planner than the attendee, which sometimes means I don't have any natural insight into why people do or do not attend an event. So I am going back to basics and asking anyone reading this to let me know why.
Why do you attend one event over another? What is it that makes you excited about an event happening in your community. What are the factors that push you to purchase a ticket, leave the house, and do something?
Last night, we held our first family friendly Outdoor Movie Night of the summer. All of the technical factors should have made it a well attended event... we had awesome weather, we used the same model for date and time as we did last year, we added an amazing band for some pre-show entertainment, we advertised the same way as worked in the past... and yet our attendance was down from last year's attendance at the same time. Do not get me wrong, it was still an awesome night, and I am confident we improved on the experience of our attendees. Feedback was positive, and I am really looking forward to the next one (which is August 8th by the way!). So if you did or did not attend an Outdoor Movie Night last year, and if you did or did not attend last night's movie - WHY? I would love your input on how to make this a fun experience!
I have felt very strongly about holding events that create experiences in and for this community, and I know there are so many others in Creston right now working to do the same. I know there are some events that are annual sell outs, and some events where ticket sales are a huge struggle. I am always hearing feedback about the lack of things to do in Creston, so on the surface, it appears the event market is not saturated, however, it could be that the events happening in the community just aren't appealing to the people of the community. In speaking to other businesses and groups creating events, from fundraisers, to concerts, to ticketed dinners, the perspective from the organizers is that if people don't attend, then the events can't happen. My experience has been that Creston is not the kind of community that pre-purchases tickets for things, and even the normal incentives on pre-sale tickets don't quite work here, but without pre-sale tickets, it can be very hard for businesses and non-profit groups to justify holding an event.
I have been super fortunate to have been able to organize many events, most of which have been more successful than I could have hoped. I strive every day to create events that bring joy to people, because that is what brings me joy. I have also had events I have had to cancel, sometimes in the early planning stages, sometimes later, because the cost risk is just to great.
I would love to get input from the community, and from people outside the community, so that we at AM Event Coordination can improve our offer, and create events that are truly an experience for our target market - YOU. I love creating these events, I love bringing them to life, and seeing people enjoy them. Seeing little children in the jammies, snacking on popcorn while spending quality time with their parents at one of my Outdoor Movie Nights is a true joy for me, and I would be sad if I was not able to continue creating that kind of experience for people. Or if non-profit groups aren't able to use events as a fundraising tool because of a lack of attendance. I know there are others out there, very specifically in Creston, working to bring awesome events to life for the good of the community as a whole. So help us to bring this town to life! Let me know your thoughts, either by responding to this post, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you see me somewhere, let me know what kind of events YOU want to see here! If you know me, you know that I can't hear an idea and not run with it, so let's chat!!
We are in full wedding mode here at AM Event Coordination, and so excited to be able to share in the love of so many amazing couples!
I have to say, I am a sucker for a wedding. I am pretty sure that even if I wasn`t lucky enough to be able to do this every day, I would still be all over wedding websites, checking out gowns and cakes and decorations and flowers. I still ask my husband almost daily if we can have another wedding - although he always says no. There is just something about a wedding... and not just the day, the whole lead up to the event... I love dress shopping, the stag or stagette party, the invitations! Choosing venues, cakes, flowers and playlists. Or doing none of those things, shirking tradition and creating an event that is specifically tailored to the couple. I love it all!
One of the best parts of wedding planning for me is getting to meet these awesome couples, helping them to bring their visions to life, and then being able to watch them and their families share in the joy and the love of their relationship.
Last weekend, for example, I was so lucky to have been able to help bring the vision to life for an amazing Creston couple. Over the past year I have gotten to know the two of them, and it has been a pleasure. This couple was not celebrating their first day of marriage, but their 4563rd! They planned a super fun 12.5 year anniversary party (Halfway to twenty five!) at Lister Park. The casual, relaxed camping weekend was a perfect way to celebrate a lasting love, and for these two, and all the people they care about, it was a fun way to connect, eat, drink and just have fun. I think one of my favourite things about their event was the atmosphere I walked into when I showed up to check that everything was going as planned. There were kids in the grass having a water fight, adults all over the place laughing, talking, and smiling. Food and drinks were clearly abundant. Tents and trailers surrounded the park, and the DJ was just getting the party going as the food truck showed up with dinner. It looked so fun! The only downside to be the planner, is that I don't get to just join every party!!
Coming up this weekend, I am bringing another year-long project to fruition, this time with a couple from out of town, who decided to bring their family and friends to Creston to celebrate their love. I am so thrilled for this wedding event to be coming to life over the next few days, and I am certain it will be stunning. Aside from getting to know the couple and being able to share in creating an event that matches their vision, I have been super excited to get to work with local businesses on this wedding. From the venues, to the wine suppliers, to the dessert table and flowers, this wedding is truly an example of all the amazing things Creston has to offer, and one of the main reasons why I believe so strongly in this community as a "destination". This couple is absolutely lovely, and I hope that their day is all they dreamed.
In addition to this major wedding, I was approached about a sound system rental for the wedding of a local couple, and even though my team is going to be so busy with the logistics of the main event, I just cannot turn down a bride and groom in need! So I recruited an extra helper to take the sound system out to Canyon to help bring some sound to what I am sure will be an extra special celebration.
Finally, in a little over a week, I am heading to beautiful Nelson to help celebrate a beautiful couple who I met at the St. Eugene Wedding Fair back in February. This Cranbrook couple approached me about "Day of Wedding Coordination", and I was eager to assist! Their wedding plans are detailed, and the bride and groom are so well-organized, that they really didn't need someone to do their planning for them, they just need someone to take the pressure off and manage the logistics of the day, from setting up chairs for the ceremony, to ensuring their place settings for the reception are just right. They've made my day easier by having all the plans in place, and I know they will be relieved to let someone else handle the details so they can concentrate on what really matters.... each other!
These three weeks concentrating on love have really made me reflect on my own marriage, and my wedding day (which was awesome). Maybe today's the day my husband will finally say yes to having another wedding (to each other of course!) ;)
Amanda, along with her team, coordinates, facilitates and creates awesome events in and around the Creston Valley. Through her business, AM Event Coordination, she strives to create awesome experiences and memories through the creation and execution of quality events.