WoW Blog

Celebrating Another Great Year with WoW, and Looking Forward to the Year Ahead!

January 31st, 2015

As we approach our Second Year Anniversary, we're getting nostalgic here at WoW. We've accomplished and learned so much this year, and we know our Members have, too. As we've grown, so too has our mandate. We now welcome anyone, man or woman, who is dedicated to providing superior service in the wedding industry, and who wants to network with fellow, top-notch companies. And we've got some big things planned for the year ahead.

If you're new to WoW, know this: we're a dedicated group of wedding industry professionals, who come together once a month to Network, Share, Showcase, Learn and Celebrate. Keep reading to see how our networking organization is helping and promoting wedding businesses of all sizes, and why our events are 'must-attends' for anyone looking to gain referrals, gain exposure, and grow.

Network

WoW is the brainchild of Sharon Rai of Sharon Rai Hair & Makeup. Despite a successful practice, a respected brand, countless happy clients and a great reputation, Sharon found herself bumping up against the limits of traditional networking groups. Meeting entrepreneurs from other industries just wasn't providing the types of referrals she needed. In an industry heavily reliant on word-of-mouth referrals, she knew she needed to network with other wedding businesses. 

And so, countless hours of work later, and eventually with a baby in tow, Sharon's brainchild is now a reality. WoW Members share the same clientele, so we have the same needs and experiences. We meet once a month to share expertise and build solid, collaborative relationships. And networking with colleagues in the same industry equals more referrals.

As we learned from local branding and marketing expert Deb Alcadinho, collaborating with complimentary businesses is a proven way to increase brand visibility and exposure on a budget. We have so many stories of WoW Members meeting at events, and then working together to refer each other. Knowing the wedding industry so intimately lets us provide even better services to our clients. Since all WoW Members pledge to maintain the highest standards in products and services, we're ultimately providing better overall experiences for our brides, too.

Krista Clarke from BW Premier Prestige Oceanfront Resort shared one a WoW success story this year. As a direct result of WoW, she booked her largest wedding to date, as well as a blended Western and Hindu event after last year's mock Hindu wedding at her venueCongratulations Krista, and thanks for being such a dedicated member of WoW!

And when Jo Ann Hirschi from Tiers of Joy Cakes took the floor to talk about her business at our Insider Trends' Event, she was happy to talk about 5 recent direct WoW referrals (way to go Jo Ann!).

"I just wanted to thank the WoW organization for your event at the HCP Gardens.  I was very pleased to sponsor the event, and it allowed me to get a referral for a wedding at the venue.  I would not have received that referral if it wasn’t for WOW, and I just wanted to thank WoW and its members for that."
Am Sajan, DJ Record C

"Meeting with a diverse group of wedding vendors and supporters regularly, is—on it’s own—an important aspect to our industry."
Vanessa Pennington, The Oswego Hotel

"I believe that WoW is a worthwhile, meaningful organization that provides an accessible, valuable network and an open forum for business women in the Wedding Industry Community."
Margaret Howley, Red Carpet Photo Booth Rental

"WoW has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know other members of the Wedding Business Community that I wouldn’t have otherwise met.  It has enabled me to begin to build relationships with these members and grow our businesses together! Being a part of WoW has enabled me to refer with confidence that the person I am referring will be well taken care of. I refer other WoW members on a regular basis."
Sarah Barnum, The Butchart Gardens

Share

When our wonderful 'Wowies' get together, we're not just looking for referrals. We all have different talents, passions, and expertise to share, and share we do! Through our events, on our website, and through social media, we collaborated, shared ideas and toasted each other's success this year.

Since WoW Members are leaders in their fields, they have so much to share. In April, WoW Board Member and photographer Deanna McCollum shared 8 tips to help you look and feel your best in your photographs - so now we can all take super-model-quality shots. And in December, WoW Members and culinary experts Villa Marco Polo, Truffles Catering, Joe the Bartender Ltd. & Connoisseur Catering and Cook's Day Off Fine Food & Catering shared their favourite Christmas recipes, plus tips for food and drink pairings, for the tastiest holiday yet.

Remember that guest posting is a great way to increase your brand exposure - so stay tuned for more guest posts in the coming year, and get in touch if you have a story you're dying to share!

Of course, our generous Showcase Sponsors did their fair share of sharing, too. Not only are we treated to some fab events - we always go home laden down with goodies afterwards, too. From lavender jelly from the Teahouse at the Abkhazi Garden, to handmade chocolates from Villa Marco Polo Inn (and not to mention all the gift baskets and goodie-giveaways!), we were all certainly treated well by the end of the year.

And nothing says 'sharing' like social media love. We're on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and we loved seeing all the #victoriawow posts this year. A little selfie action never hurt anyone!

Finally, Sharon Rai had someone very special to share this year. In April, she and husband Kal introduced WoW to their newborn baby girl, Naiva. We're happy to report that our youngest honourary member stole the show at April's Event.

Showcase

Showcase Sponsorship is a core tenet of Victoria WoW. Our events are more than social gatherings. They're experiential showcases, opportunities for vendors and venues to show-off exactly how they 'WoW' their brides. Members and guests sample their products and services, which is so important. By experiencing first-hand our Showcase Sponsors' offerings, we are better able to recommend one another to our clients, leading to more, and better, referrals. 

And lucky us - since WoW Members are among the city's elite, we're treated monthly to first-class events. Prospective members should only join if they're able to handle lots and lots of 'oohing' and 'ahhing,' as we're regularly treated to some of the best services in Victoria.

First up this year was the regal Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University. The talented team from Trend Décor elevated the castle's built-in ambiance with some vintage charm, complimenting the classic atmosphere with antique-inspired accents. And Truffles Catering created a gorgeous brunch-inspired buffet and fizzy berry cocktails.

For more details and pictures of this gorgeous day, please see here.

Next up, in February, we celebrated our One Year Anniversary at the glamorous Parkside Hotel & Spa. The hotel's breathtaking atrium lobby made a picture-perfect backdrop for the beginning of the event, where guests mingled and got ready for their red-carpet close-up. Photographer Deanna McCollum captured fabulous paparazzi snaps of WoW Members and industry guests, and Magical Moments Decorating did an amazing job transforming  our space into an elegant feast for the eyes. Truffles Catering and Victoria Women of Weddings sponsored a scrumptious buffet, abundant with charcuterie, amuse bouches, sweets and other bite-sized morsels. Jo-Ann Way from Tiers of Joy Cakes custom-designed a sweet birthday cake, and Gala Van Party Shop provided the "foundations" of the event, including the red carpet, tables, chairs and linens. And Four Frames Photo Booth set-up a fun booth to capture more candid, playful moments. Everyone had a blast letting loose.

For more pictures and details of this truly amazing party, please see here.

For our March event, Victoria WoW celebrated Spring at Victoria's most renowned tourist attraction, the always breathtaking Butchart Gardens. WoW Team Photographer Rita Steenssens was clearly inspired by the beautiful day, capturing some amazing shots. Showcase Sponsors Sharon Rai from Sharon Rai Hair & Makeup Artistry and Maya Gabrovska from M&M Tailoring & Alterations also took centre-stage and wowed us with their dedication to their crafts.

For more photos and details of this inspiring morning, please see here.

April's Event was all about Wedding Trends, as we converged on marvelous Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Our event took place in the hotel's Grand Lobby with a breathtaking view of the ocean.

For more details and pictures, and in insider's peak at this newly rebuilt but nostalgically reminiscent Victoria landmark, please see here.

With a breathtaking view of Victoria's Inner Harbour and glorious weather to boot, WoW's May event felt a bit like we were playing hooky from work! We were treated to the sun-drenched penthouse terrace at the Inn at Laurel Point and more, while Deanna McCollum Photography brilliantly captured this beautiful, sunshine-y day.

For more details and pictures of this lovely morning, please see here.

For June's Event, Garden at HCP (Horticultural Centre of the Pacific) opened up its magnificent gates and welcomed us to their ten acres of cultivated gardens teeming with native plant species. Victoria Vintage China Rentals outfitted the venue with beautiful vintage décor to match the morning's rustic theme. And we discovered the mix-master stylings of WoW Member DJ RecordC.

For more details and pictures of this beautiful morning, please see here.

This July's event was an extra-special treat, as de Vine Vineyards used our morning together to announce their plans for their first wedding season, coming up in 2015, and to showcase their stunning vineyard, sure to become one of Victoria's prime wedding locations. WoW member Shirley Lang, of Kitchens of Distinction, provided amazing appies.

For more details and pictures of this awe-inspiring day, please see here.

In August, we opened our doors to brides, for a lovely meet-and-greet and the equally lovely Villa Marco Polo Inn, a little slice of Tuscany right here in Victoria. Deanna McCollum Photography took gorgeous photos of what turned out to be perfect refuge from our crazy wedding schedules. The Villa Marco Polo Inn provided both savoury and sweet treats, and the perfect venue to network with potential clients. 

For more details and pictures of this Tuscan-inspired morning, please see here.

September saw us enjoying the beautiful venue and masterful catering of Guy Le Monnier at the Ambrosia Conference & Event Centre. We were also treated to discounts at this Member's new Ambrosia Cafe. And they sent everyone on their merry way with sweet mason jars filled with chocolate chip pancake mix - too fun.

For more details and pictures of this fun event, please see here.

In October, we got to toast another successful wedding season as we indulged at Joe the Bartender Ltd. & Connoisseur Catering's stunning and newly renovated banquet facility and club bar. We mingled with Members and Brides and had some fun mixology lessons.  The decor was perfect, the food was perfect, and the company was perfect, too.

For more details and pictures of this happening evening, please see here.

And we had a fabulous day at the Fairmont Empress, where we enjoyed the Vice Regal Suite, its most exquisite (and expensive!) room, as well as their amazing catering, indulgences by Willow Stream Spa, and the beautiful stylings of Magical Moments Decorating.

For more details and photos, please see here.

WoW knows how to party, and our WoW Showcase Sponsors clearly do, too! Our Christmas Bash was so fun, thanks to a beautifully decked-out Sandman Hotel Victoria and their amazing catering, fun tunes from DJ Record C and wow-worthy decor from Party Mood. This WoW Holiday Party was the place to be, and we left inspired and excited for a great holiday season and an even greater coming year.

For more details and pictures of our Holiday Party, please see here.

And finally, thanks to The Teahouse at Abkhazi Gardens, WoW kicked off 2015 with love, friendship, and renewed goals for the year to come. The 'Garden that Love Built' provided an intimate setting to reconnect with our fellow wedding professionals, while we were treated to Afternoon Tea and more at this beloved Victoria landmark.

For more details and pictures of this engaging morning, please see here.

Showcase Sponsorship is a great way to increase your exposure within the Victoria wedding industry. As we know, brides actively seek referrals to ensure that every detail of their wedding day is customized to their exacting standards.By sharing your offerings at a WoW Event, you expose your expertise to up to 40 business owners at every event, each of whom caters directly to your target market. Please email info@victoriawow.com to learn more.

"I've just booked a bride who saw the blog post about the first WoW event that I sponsored. The bride also booked the videographer that day. It's exciting to be part of this supportive and dynamic community."
Deanna McCollum, Deanna McCollum Photography

Learn

We're all busy entrepreneurs, and sometimes we just don't have the time or resources to educate ourselves as much as we'd like. That's where WoW comes in. Whether you're a small or large business, brand new or established, there's so much we can learn to grow our businesses. With engaging guest speakers and an informative blog, WoW keeps its members on their toes and learning new tricks.

This year, the fabulous Juhli of JUHLi SELBy Social Media led an energetic seminar reviewing the advantages of using social media to build relationships with our clients. Better still, she helped us wade through the often confusing best practices of using social media to drive business. For some key takeaways, see here.

Thanks to local branding expert Deb Alcadinho, founder of Westshore Women's Business Network, we also learned all about branding – why it's so important for small businesses, and how to generate greater visibility for your brand on a smaller budget. For 10 easy (and affordable) marketing tips for small businesses to increase branding and visibility, please see here. 

And the Women's Enterprise Centre generously presented Business Advisor Dawn McCooey, an expert who has worked in the adult training and development field for over 20 years. We were expecting Dawn to be informative, but had no idea to expect this superhero! Dawn explored crucial practices for growth, like employee grooming and retention, and she outlined strategies to help us all unleash our inner Superhero. This is so critical in our competitive industry, as we all need to show clients exactly why we're the 'superhero' they need to pull off their dream weddings. We were all busy taking notes during Dawn's talk and so grateful she joined us. To see her 5 key areas to explore before growing your business, please see here.

 

Every entrepreneur needs an elevator pitch. Sarah Daviau from Piece of Cake Communications showed how to create one perfect for our target clients, and we all had fun practicing ours. Learn how to craft your best elevator pitch here.

We also enjoyed learning from guest speaker Anna Harvey of BOOST Communications, who led an enlightening workshop that enables business owners, teams and individuals to communicate and connect more effectively with others. To learn how personality types could be affecting your business success, please see here.

Speaking of creative workshops, we had lots of great ones this year, too! From exploring the most important bridal trends of the season, to coming up with fun bachelor and bachelorette ideas to share with our clients (loved the unique ideas this day!), and from solving business challenges to lots and lots of speed networking opportunities, we all learned so much from each other this year.

Finally, make sure to regularly check our blog for inspiration and education. We explored the difference between resolutions and goals (and how to ensure you actually achieve your best intentions), how to make your brand work for you, how to 'date' your customers to provide the best customer service possible, and 4 ways to make your customer relationships last.

Blogging is so essential in today's marketing world. We recently shared key blogging strategies to let your business truly shine online. By popular demand, we're continuing this forray into the blogosphere - in March, successful blogger and writer Mike Wicks will be sharing even more blogging best practices. Stay tuned!

Celebrate

WoW Members help brides and grooms celebrate the biggest days of their lives .... so, yes, we know how to celebrate! As you can probably tell, our Events are all work, AND all play. We're not only cultivating beneficial working relationships, but great friendships, too. We're always celebrating each other's success on our social media, and it's fun to meet each month to check in, relax, and celebrate. Yes, we accomplish so much through our events, but we always have fun, too.

And of course, giving back is important, too. Our Silent Auction for the Cool Aid Society was a big success, and we have plans to give back even more this year.

Ultimately, one of our many goals at WoW is to celebrate the wedding industry in Victoria, and after another year with our wonderful Members, it's safe to say, 'Mission Accomplished!'

"The best thing about being a member of WoW is the new connections we have made. Personal connections with many of the members. We get to see many WoWies around the Island and at events and to me that is the best part of it all. Hugs are shared. Praise for success is shared. I look forward to more of this in the future."
-Lindsay Rehner, Four Frames Photo Booth

Looking Forward

We're entering our third year, and WoW is just getting started! We have recently implement a Board of Directors to ensure that we're continually improving and meeting our Members' needs. We have an amazing year of events already planned, and this year we'll be bringing you more guest speakers, more educational events and blogs, and even better creative workshops.

We're also excited about our new WoW Discount Card. Now it pays to be a member of WoW at a growing number of vendors across the city. Proudly display your affiliation with other elite wedding businesses, while you collect your discount, too! This is also a great way for Members to promote their businesses, so please get in touch if you have a discount you'd like to share.

And make sure to join us as we celebrate our 2 year anniversary! This February 10, we're meeting for an evening of cocktails, appetizers and live jazz music at the gorgeous and locally-owned Oswego Hotel. Get ready for a little shameless promotion - Members will be given the floor to talk up their wonderful businesses. Don't forget to RSVP ASAP!

We're kicking off our new year by shining the spotlight on our Members. Everyone will get a chance to educate the WoW community about their business and their goals. In the gorgeous, jazz-filled lounge at The Oswego, we're amping up your exposure and creating lots of opportunities for more referrals - making this a great opportunity for wedding entrepreneurs to present themselves before dozens of potential contacts.  And if you stay late to chat with your new colleagues over the O'Bistro's dynamic West Coast cuisine, all the better!

New to WoW? If you're a wedding industry professional considering whether WoW is right for you, please join us! We have a special guest fee this month, so it's never been easier to check out WoW! Simply visit www.victoriawow.com/rsvp, and fill out your name and email address in the box on the right. We'll be in touch shortly with more details and instructions! Get your business cards ready, and get ready to experience the best wedding networking in the city!

And finally, here's a truly heartfelt thanks to all our WoW Members, and to all our Showcase Sponsors and Speakers. It's been a truly remarkable year, and it's thanks to you. And now, on to Year Three!

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