This week's Ms New Brunswick is Brittney Toner, who created and owns Weddings New Brunswick, the new bridal magazine that focuses entirely on home grown venues, products and services. The weddings featured in the publication are also all real NB couples and their real NB weddings. Brittney, who is a wedding and event planner by trade, wanted to create a resource for New Brunswick couples by New Brunswick professionals in the industry, and the response has been incredibly supportive.
When I was talking with Brittney we chatted about how both of us felt like we weren't the types that could work for someone else anymore. I mentioned about how many women, including a former version of myself, just didn't think that they had good enough ideas to go out on their own, even if they wanted to. Brittney said, "I'm literally sitting in my office staring at two signs that hang above my desk and they say, 'I can' and 'I will'. Everyone suffers from a lack of confidence at some point, the only thing you can do is not let it stop you".
Tell me about Weddings New Brunswick.
Weddings New Brunswick is a publication to showcase local businesses, services and talent that we have available in the province in the event and wedding industry, while also highlighting real life couples’ love stories. You can buy a copy of the magazine for only $7.99 at many retailers across the Province (for a full list see our Facebook page). We publish bi-annually, but are already growing. Our first issue came out in January and was so successful we nearly doubled our publication order for the second issue due out in July.
How did you get started?
It started because I’m a wedding coordinator and decorator for the western part of the province with Panoramic events. I am always trying to stay on trend so that I am able to offer my clients the latest and best ideas for their own amazing weddings. Sadly, I was finding that most trends and ideas found in bridal magazines were not relevant or available to people in New Brunswick, and that was really frustrating. We have so much available and unique here when it comes to event planning, and we needed a resource that reflected that. The magazine offers couples a look at what real weddings look like here, and is also a place for the many businesses that offer wedding and event services or products to advertise directly to potential clients.
Has the community been supportive?
Oh my gosh, unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. The response that we have gotten has been absolutely amazing. People tell me all the time that they can’t believe that this is a New Brunswick magazine. There is this common misconception that there isn’t anything happening here, and when we put out this gorgeous publication, people were shocked. That reaction was so disappointing to me, but also so familiar. New Brunswick is so underappreciated for what it has to offer, and we are working to change that in people’s minds.
We’ve had such a positive response that by the end of next year we are hopeful to expand this idea to be inclusive of all the Atlantic provinces. I attended the wedding showcase in Halifax this past year where I took an informal poll from the vendors wondering if they would be interested in a similar publication that featured their area. The support I received was overwhelming. Nova Scotia and PEI also have a need for something like this, and so we are going to work toward including them.
How can we support you better?
The best way for an individual to help us succeed is by sharing us with everyone you know. Especially with the brides and couples in your lives, and also with the venues, vendors and businesses that they work with. The Province could really promote the wedding and events industry a lot more. Part of the problem with our reputation in other areas could be remedied with more attention paid to event promotion and tourism.
What is the biggest difficulty in your business?
Deadlines. Taking ad payments and following up with businesses to ensure that they provide us with the information we need to create their ads in the publication has been a struggle. Another problem has been pursuing sales for ads throughout the province. I’ve taken steps to resolve that now by hiring regional sales managers, because I just didn’t have the connections in some areas, or the time to devote to it.
How do you balance work and personal life?
Well my husband is an extremely hard worker, both in the office and at home and having him as a support is the number one reason I can get things done. After I had a really successful wedding season as a planner last year, I realized I was completely drained. I felt like the walls were caving in. I was not myself. I put things off, I stopped answering emails. I came to a point where I thought I either have to pack it in, or make a significant change. I had to go back to the books and figure out a way to bring in someone to help me. I made several hires, and that has changed everything. Teamwork makes the dream work. If you have a really great team behind you, you can achieve basically anything.
What piece of advice would you offer other women starting their own business?
Do it. Stop sitting on it. Do it. Figure out a way to make your side hustle your career. Be aware of the opportunities available to new businesses in your area – it’s so much more than approaching a bank for a loan. Look into the CBDC, private investors and Women in Business NB or one of the many other start-up accelerators. Whatever your passion is can also be your career, but you have to figure out a way. There are always obstacles, but there are ways around them too, and part of being a good entrepreneur is expecting the hurdles and getting ready to jump them.
How do we get in touch with you?
You can find us at our website, https://www.weddingsnb.com/ and also on Facebook. If you're a business or vendor that wants to advertise in the magazine you can reach us at email@example.com.
The Ms New Brunswick project is about taking a title back for all the women who really embody the heart and soul of our province through creative endeavours and entrepreneurship. The makers and doers who are sharing with us their time, energy and talents, and carrying us forward. Full-time or side hustle. Big or small. At home or in an office. Products or service. Crafters, moms, entrepreneurs, shop owners, consultants. Whatever. If there is a woman in our province giving life to an idea or product, I want to know about it.
If you or someone you know would be right for the Ms New Brunswick series please fill out the Nomination Form!