Her passion for weddings came out of nowhere. Read about how Brittany Frid turned a little blog that started out as a hobby into a thriving business.
Creative Director, Satin & Snow
Satin & Snow Wedding Boutique | Ottawa, ON
So I guess we should start from the beginning. How did you get into the wedding planning business?
Ohhh. Tricky question. I fell into it by accident. I was going o be a lawyer.
When I first graduated college, I became fast friends with a girl who was working at my law firm. She got engaged and, knowing that I am creative, she asked me for help designing the reception. I’ve never had any interest in weddings and never wanted one for myself, but I was happy to help.
I couldn’t find any inspiration in Ottawa since weddings at the time were a little too modern or country for my taste, so I started looking outside of Canada and found all these wonderful new blogs based out of that States like Style Me Pretty, Once Wed and Wedding Chicks that featured this new style I like to call “fine art weddings”: relaxed, light-filled, airy, intimate, understated, and beautiful. Nothing over the top. I was so intrigued. I tried to find wedding vendors in Ottawa that I thought could reproduce this look, but I couldn’t find anything based on their portfolios at the time.
That’s when I realized that there was a big hole in the wedding market. Clearly, this fine art wedding style was popular everywhere but Ottawa, and I wanted to bring it to our city. I started a blog to fill the gap: it became Ottawa’s first local wedding blog.
The seed is planted.
The blog featured fine art weddings from everywhere in the world at first, and slowly featured more and more Canadian content as submissions started pouring in from Canadian photographers, brides and wedding planners. Eventually, my blog became a vendor guide as well and I featured wedding companies that I believed could produce this fine art style in Ottawa.
The blog took off like a bat out of hell. It was getting international recognition, submissions from around the world, advertisers, and regularly won “Best Wedding Blog in Canada” on various platforms. The Ottawa wedding community took me in with open arms and jobs started dropping in my lap. It was crazy.
Eventually, a wedding planner in Ottawa offered me a job as a coordinator that I accepted. We did 12 weddings that year on top of my day job at the law firm. After the season was done, she wanted to keep me on but the blog was doing really well and I had a feeling something big was going to happen for me because of it.
A brand is born.
As soon as I left the planning company, I had couples knocking on my door asking me to design their weddings. It was actually very unexpected because I didn’t think that I wanted to have my own company. Regardless, I wasn’t about to say no. Six months later, I launched planning and design services through my blog and booked 12 high-budget weddings, which is unheard of (three low-budget weddings is average for a first-year planner). The following year, I booked 24 weddings. Then 35, and then I finally had to leave the law firm because I had matched my salary and I couldn’t keep working 20-hour days for 8 months on end.
What impresses me most about entrepreneurs like yourself is that you find an untapped niche in the market and create amazing brands and businesses.
I think it all came down to lucky timing. I jumped in just as Pinterest was becoming popular and those American wedding blogs were gaining steam but hadn’t quite hit the Canadian market yet. There was a sliver of time there where Canadian brides hadn’t been introduced to the style yet, so my Ottawa wedding blog introduced it to them. It was perfect timing.
As a local wedding blogger, I was already doing a lot of research on Ottawa wedding vendors. I was regularly pushing my design ideas to my readers and they were very well received. Once I learned how to run a wedding day as a coordinator, I knew that it was time to branch out and start offering services.
My blogging role naturally progressed into launching wedding planning and design services to couples looking for that fine art wedding style.
Now, we have a team of wedding planners, coordinators, and stylists, as well as recently launching in-house floral design services. I prefer designing over planning, and I recognized this early on, so my team is built of brilliant girls who are excellent planners and do the things I’m not as good at managing.
How did the shop come about?
I wanted to create a “one-stop wedding shop”; a beautiful space in the city where couples can casually walk in, sit down with our team, do a little shopping and see us all working together on our projects. Couples can book us for planning, design, coordination, rentals, flowers, and pick up gifts for their wedding party or decor for their bridal showers, etc.
I told myself by the year I turn 30-years-old, I would find a place to launch this “one-stop shop” concept. But shortly after I turned 28, I accidentally stumbled upon the perfect space and decided to take the leap.
I have always loved the Hintonburg and Wellington Village area and knew that it was where I wanted to eventually build my studio. I found a terrible photo of the space on Kijiji one day when I was researching costs in the area, but something told me I should go view it anyway.It was in the heart of Wellington West, the price was unbelievably good, and the photo didn’t do it justice; it was exactly what I had been picturing. I made the decision to sign the lease before I even left the viewing. And after a few weeks of negotiating the lease with the sweetest landlord ever, it was mine.
I started looking at some random properties on Kijiji – to get an idea of the pricing. Everything was coming up very expensive – which I had expected. Then I stumbled upon a random ad and on a whim I reached out to see if it was still available.
I have always loved the Hintonburg and Wellington Village – I grew up in it.
It was less than half the price than anything else I had seen and it was exactly where I wanted to be. It almost felt like it was too good to be true. So literally the next day, I went to view the location after 24 hours of no sleep – running the numbers in my head – I didn’t think it was feasible. I figured at least I knew what I was looking for was achievable.
But after I saw the property – I knew it was perfect. So after a month of going back and forth on revising a 25 year old lease, I did it! That was that and here I am.
It almost seems like fate.
Very much so. I could have kept working out of my house for another year, but I knew that having a formal studio and retail space is what I eventually wanted anyway so it made sense to take the risk. I’m so happy to be back in my favourite neighbourhood. I lived on Parkdale with my family growing up, I had an apartment for 3 years off Island Park, and now I have an apartment in Hintonburg 5 minutes from the shop. I couldn’t be happier!
I have to say I love this space. It looks like something out of a magazine – I love the vibe, it’s so mellow and inviting – everything from the layout, to the décor and lighting. I love the big bay windows.
Thank you! I tried to make it a true reflection of my style. It’s light-filled, inviting, minimalistic, organic and a bit industrial too. When you walk in, you should know what we’re all about. Everything in the front is retail and as you work your way to the back, you see all the rentals and our production area.
I want people who are walking by to see us working – buried in a heap of flowers – trying to create all these amazing things for our couples. The windows were the biggest selling feature for me.
Every great brand is like a great story.
– Kevin Plank
Branding has actually been very easy for me, and I’ve always bee able to attract my ideal client from the very start of my career. I am my brand, my brand is me. The Satin & Snow brand communicates the way I operate and shows off my taste. I know my style and I’m a very open, honest person. I’m very forthright – I don’t sugar coat anything – even with my couples. That’s usually why I get hired actually, my couples like how genuine and opinionated I am because they trust that I’m giving them my honest advice and that I’m always going to have their best interest in mind. Being direct about my style also makes it easier for my couples to know if I’m the right planner for them. My website and business cards feature little sarcastic, quirky quotes that have become a memorable part of our company:
“For those who are so over burlap and mason jars.”
“Because Pinterest doesn’t actually plan weddings…”
“When you’d rather binge-watch Netflix than review the catering contract.”
“Because wine won’t solve the problem with the wedding day itinerary.”
I think you know exactly who you’re getting in bed with if you hire Satin & Snow – transparency is important to me in business and in life in general.
What have been some of the consistent trends within the wedding industry over the past 5 years.
There are two obvious looks that are very consistent. You’ve got “modern glam” which often features crystal chandeliers, uplighting, sequins or other upgraded linens, leather furniture for soft seating, over-the-top backdrops, all in elaborate banquet halls. It’s more glitz and glamour but it’s still very refined.
And on the polar opposite end of the spectrum, you have the “country” look: turquoise, bridesmaids in cowboy boots, mason jars, burlap, babies breath, hay bails for ceremony seating, and probably a barn.
Neither of those are my style at all! I have a relaxed but refined, organic, minimalist approach to weddings.They’re actually usually a really good blend of masculine and feminine elements, almost always combining organic elements like wood with metals and industrial features, different textures like fur, satins, leather, and chiffon, and our florals are very garden-inspired and fresh, filled with greenery and look nice and wild.
I think there’s a big difference between “simple” and “simplified”. Our weddings certainly aren’t simple; they’re refined.
So how does the whole process work – how do you turn a couples vision into something tangible that they can see.
When a client hires us for design work, we first sit down with a bottle of wine and do a full “personality test” where I ask them a bunch of pointed questions about their family values, their histories, where they’ve worked, what they like to do, what they don’t like to do, what their home looks like, what they wear, etc. I pull from all these answers and come up with a design for their wedding.
For example, one of my couples told me that they get together with their family every weekend to play the board game Settlers of Catan. It brings them together and they share these nice intimate moments as a family. I’d never heard of the game, so I had to do some homework. I eventually pitched doing the table numbers based on the board game. They loved it. The family noticed it immediately when they walked into the reception – it was a very subtle nod to an important part of their life, and only their family would have recognized it.
Most of our couples walk into their reception and feel “at home” I’ve been told. That’s how it should feel. A wedding is a celebration of a couple, a marriage between two individual people. You should feel their presence and their story behind every element of the wedding. It’s a big day, it needs to be personalized and an extension of who you are and what you value, and ultimately a celebration of that.
That’s beautiful to hear – a wedding should be a milestone in someone’s life – not something you have to get through.
It’s definitely my favourite part of the job. I tell all my couples that I don’t like planning weddings: I like designing them. Now I am at a point where I can devote my time to designing and managing the company more than running the planning side (my team handles most of the planning now).
So I wasn’t sure if I should bring this up – but have you seen the movie the Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez? How true to life is it really?
Well, one of the quotes on my business cards that I didn’t mention is actually my favourite. It says “If you thought J.Lo was good…” It still makes me laugh so hard because only my brides will know that reference. I loved that movie so much growing up! Never in my life did I want to be a wedding planner though (although I’d take Matthew McConaughey any day!).
The movie isn’t that far off from the truth, to be honest. The headpieces, emergency kits, needing to track down drunk FOB’s (happens all the time). I’ve had MCs run the rails, I’ve had to give the ego-boosting speech, calm down a few brides, and make sure the groom has his speech. I’d say the only major difference is that there isn’t a hope in hell I could look that put together on a wedding day. I’m usually running around with my head cut off right until the ceremony starts. No one sees it, but I know I don’t have J.Lo’s poise, that’s for sure!
There is so much physical labour that goes into a wedding day that you wouldn’t expect. It’s not nearly as glamorous as people think. It’s very high stress, intense, and sweaty!
So on that note – how do you pamper yourself and de-stress.
I’m very well known for working all through the night. Most people think I’m crazy. I often work 24-48 hours straight and it doesn’t really bother me, but I do make time for myself. As long I put something in my calendar – I will commit. So dinner with friends, team retreats to Le Nordik, going to the movies or dating, all of it happens in between crazy work hours. I like it that way. I go on trips pretty often, usually on my own and I love it. I eat out a lot. I barely cook for myself. I’d say I eat out every day – if not a couple times a day. So, if I want to treat myself I’m definitely going out to a restaurant. I’m a major foodie. I have been told I’m a walking restaurant guide.
I have a book of quotes – whenever I read a book or hear a line in a movie I like – I write it down. What is your favorite quote?
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
This was a quote that my father used to tell me all the time growing up. Somehow, it became the cornerstone of my career. I invented a career for myself out of thin air. The girl who wanted to be a lawyer suddenly found herself deep in a career as a wedding planner. I’m here because of my own creativity and ambition. I’m known for being unconventional, creative and imaginative, and it’s taken me pretty far! There’s still so much I want to accomplish, but all in due time.