Brittany Stewart, Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate (Class of 2015), returned to campus on Wednesday to speak with Fleming College students about event planning, education, and gaining real world experience through placement opportunities.
Brittany is the owner of local event planning company Down to the Last Details, where she plans weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, holiday parties, and fundraising events. Down to the Last Details has welcomed many Hospitality field placement students to gain real world experience and recently hired Fleming College student Tavlyn Evans as an employee after her placement ended.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Hospitality program coordinator Jennifer Rishor welcomed Brittany back to class to discuss her career journey as well as placement opportunities with Down to the Last Details.
“There is no better way to learn about industry ins-and-outs than by working from the ground up,” Jennifer told her students.
Brittany agrees and was happy to spot many familiar faces in the classroom for her guest presentation, as many Hospitality students have already started earning work experience hours through Brittany’s event planning business. Although some event planners are hesitant to take on students due to the 12 to 15 hour event days and hectic schedule, Brittany, who is a certified wedding planner through the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, welcomes the help and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others.
“I like working with a team. You need someone to talk to and to bounce ideas off of,” said Brittany on the team dynamic of event planning.
Brittany plans events as a sub-contractor for The Ranch Resort in Bethany and Down to the Last Details has a number of corporate clients. She is currently planning a Bridal Show in Peterborough and a fundraiser for the Ashburnham Dog Park. With all that is on the go, Brittany is looking for extra hands to help. “You really end up working as a team base to get things done,” she said.
Her interest in event planning was sparked by the 2001 movie “The Wedding Planner,” and although Brittany claims real event planning is not quite as glamorous as Hollywood portrays it, she did share that real event planners do often smile and pretend to be calm around clients while in the midst of a crisis.
This scenario rang true when Down to the Last Details secured their first contract, which was a destination wedding in Mexico. “The average destination wedding is 20 to 30 people, but we doubled that. I had to start big,” she laughed, recalling that the banquet hall’s air conditioning broke before the reception and she scurried to get it repaired before guests noticed.
With five years of event planning experience now under her belt, including a six-month contract position at Peterborough Musicfest, as well as a Fleming College diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a graduate certificate in Event Management from Algonquin College, Brittany said she is always learning something new. “Every time you have a wedding or event, you’re going to learn from it,” she said.
This includes an array of handy items Brittany has accumulated for a tool belt she wears on event days. “For one wedding, the photographer wanted the bride to walk off the trail in Jackson Park. The bride was laidback and fine with it but her heels were very thin, so I pulled out shoe stoppers from my pack and offered it to her,” said Brittany on the importance of small details when planning an event.
The small details are where Brittany starts with teaching her placement students, which includes proper email etiquette and place settings. “Sometimes you have to go back to the basics.”