Vernon wedding planner finds magic in small gatherings – lake country calendar



It’s easy to imagine the challenges couples face in hosting their dream wedding during a pandemic.

Now imagine that you are planning weddings as restrictions on gatherings and public health orders put an end to the in-person celebrations.

Michelle Leckie – owner of Okanagan Event Planners who brought her family from Edmonton to the valley four years ago – took on this challenge head-on by opening a storefront on 33rd Street.

For Leckie, a wedding or event doesn’t have to be important to be special; it just has to have that “wow factor”.

From his downtown office on 33rd Street, Leckie has designed weddings, theme parties, corporate affairs and more in the Okanagan. During the pandemic, she pivoted her business to offer personalized runaway packages for up to 12 guests, to allow the bride and groom to enjoy a stress-free wedding day.

With three children and two dogs, Leckie says the management of the company keeps her on guard – but after being a nurse before becoming an event planner, she’s used to a fast-paced work environment. And as long as her job is to help others, she wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Her work ethic has been appreciated by others who work with her in the events industry, including nominator Lou Burke with Cheers! Okanagan Tours, whose team saw their own list of wedding events drop from 200 to five last year.

“I believe she is a businesswoman who is going to stay in business for a long time,” said Burke. “I just appreciate his resilience and his infectious smile.”

Meet Michelle Leckie

What drives you about your work?

There is no better feeling than seeing the results of weeks or even months of hard work and effort. Having the collective vision of my client and myself come to fruition and seeing the joy on everyone’s faces is one of the best feelings in the world. Smiles are what makes this job so rewarding. It is an incredible honor to be welcomed on a couple’s wedding trip. Since I’m a problem solver, I enjoy taking on challenges that come along along the way and finding realistic ways to overcome them. Doing what I love every day and calling it my ‘job’ has been one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my professional life so far.

What are your passions?

I absolutely love what I do. I like the process. I love to be there to calm nerves, defuse stress, and make planning a wedding the best possible experience. Finding my clients, the best deals, being their sounding board, surprising them with treats along the way are all benefits of my job. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it’s downright stressful, but it’s always fulfilling. My goal is to give my clients not only the wedding day they dreamed of, but also a planning experience they can emotionally look back on.

How do you find work-life balance / what do you do to get away from it all?

The nature of our business is that we work weekends for our weddings and events, and we meet with clients when available. Most of my meetings take place in the late afternoon / evening after my clients are off work. To help manage this, I limit the number of evening meetings to two evenings per week. Making time for my family and friends is very important to me. When I have quieter moments, I always prioritize them and make the most of that time.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I never need an alarm clock! I’m always awake at 6am and love to sit with a cup of coffee in silence before the chaos of the day begins. There is such peace in the morning that I cannot find any other time of the day.

What advice would you give to young women interested in your field?

Follow your passion! If you can dream it, you can do it. Don’t let fear stop you from getting started. The more present you are in the industry, the more people you connect with.

Network with other businesswomen. Have concrete goals. Remember to give back when you have the chance. Learn to accept rejection – it happens, but it can be overcome.

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