Lynzie Kent fills the white space between a city hall wedding and a traditional banquet hall wedding with hundreds of guests.
“There's a misconception around wedding planning that it needs to be complicated, but it doesn't have to be. And I just vehemently disagreed so much so that I created a product that proves that you can literally book your wedding online, the same way that you could book a hotel,” says Lynzie.
Four years ago, Lynzie sought to change the conventional way that people have always married. Her successful idea blossomed even more so during the pandemic as couples needed a feasible way to get hitched while still following health guidelines. A COVID-friendly wedding experience that is easy and affordable was music to couples’ ears in a time where wedding planning became unconventional.
Popupchapel.ca was born out of ideation and opportunity. After being in the wedding and event planning business for over a decade, Lynzie appeared on the TV show, “Crazy Beautiful Weddings,” where she tested out an idea she had—a pop-up chapel. Her idea was fueled by creating an accessible, end-to-end curated experience for clients—and she was onto something. In August 2017, she executed her first chapel at The Drake Hotel in Toronto and it sold out in three weeks.
An inclusive and sustainable way to wed
“I love the wedding space and I love how culturally important marriage is. But on the other hand, there are some things that needed to be modernized about the wedding industry. It needed to be a lot more inclusive. I asked myself, how can I bring a solution to the table for the things that I don't like about the industry? I married all of that experience and that's how the business became what it is,” says Lynzie.
What's a pop-up chapel you ask? The Pop-Up Chapel Co. is a shared wedding concept. Picture this: 10 couples get married in one day—one couple on the hour, every hour, for 10 hours straight. A couple can share their day with their 20 closest friends and family, all for under $5,000.
“It's not a new idea to elope, but it is a new idea to have a really beautiful all-in-one experience. An experience that gives you visually and experientially what you’re looking for out of a wedding but doesn't cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Lynzie.
When booking with popupchapel.ca, couples will enjoy a venue, flowers, décor, an officiant, photography, live music, a toast and light bites. Couples have the opportunity to customize their day with additional add-ons like videography, an open bar, a cake and more.
Pop Up Chapel Co. has partnerships with top wedding venue locations in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton and $300 from every booking goes to charity.
The chapels are sustainable as 10 couples share and create less waste than what a traditional wedding, hosted by one couple, generates. Lynzie partners with local wedding planners, rental companies and retail stores to use, upcycle and recycle previous wedding decor and window displays.
“Our generation cares a lot about sustainability and socially conscious consumerism. I go to bed feeling good about what we're doing every day,” says Lynzie.
The wedding industry isn’t what it used to be and Lynzie was motivated to provide alternative options for couples.
“At the end of the day, millennial values are changing. We want to do things in life but we're doing them out of traditional order. We're travelling the world and we're trying to buy a house in an insane real estate market. We don't necessarily want to do these things in the same order that our parents did. We also may not be able to afford both a house and a wedding that costs upwards of $30,000-$50,000,” says Lynzie.
Creating an online business with .CA and Squarespace
For the first two years, Lynzie’s chapels were a side project of her well-established event agency. After she started booking more than 15 chapels per year, she decided that it needed its own website and brand.
“In terms of choosing my domain, I wanted it to be as simple as possible, and something that we could use across social platforms as well,” says Lynzie.
Choosing a .CA aligned with one of Lynzie’s biggest values—inclusivity.
“I’m happy that I chose a .CA. What's incredible about the Canadian market is that it's wildly diverse. We have so many different types of couples coming into the chapel which makes me super excited. I think that's unique to Canada in terms of our openness to who can get married and the types of couples that are getting married. It's allowed us to look at the fabric of Canadians, and make sure that our marketing speaks to that diverse group.”
Lynzie is proud to say that she has married same-sex couples, trans couples and new Canadians.
And the online purchasing experience couldn’t get any simpler. We’re in a day and age where customers expect a simple, clean shopping experience and The Pop-Up Chapel Co. delivers with an easy-to-follow step-by-step, e-commerce experience.
“Over the past four years, we tried to break it down in a very digestible way through our website. We built our website on Squarespace and just kept tweaking it and keep tweaking it. It’s now at a point where I'm really proud and happy with how it's come together,” says Lynzie.
As a small business owner, Lynzie had to think about both the client experience and her employee experience.Squarespace has offered her a user-friendly tool for anybody on her team to update the website—including herself if she needs to jump in. Her blog offers her the opportunity and platform to change the conversation around what's happening in the wedding industry and provide people with options.
“It also gives us a platform to highlight the incredible vendors that we work with, and the charities that we're supporting as well as the sponsors that come on board. Not only can we use it for direct sales to clients, but we can also use it to champion people in our industry,” says Lynzie.
Entering the Dragons’ Den
In Season 16, Episode 1, Lynzie faced the Dragons’ Den and pitched The Pop-Up Chapel Co. Her entrepreneurial spirit and drive motivated her to share the idea.
“The night that it aired, we saw a massive spike in our website visits, and we had a lot of communication come in through our contact forms. People also gave us kind words of encouragement. I thought it would be excellent publicity for my business if I got a deal. I didn't get a deal and it was still good publicity,” says Lynzie.
Lessons from one entrepreneur to another
Lynzie’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to know your customer and your service very specifically.
“Being granular about what we offer and what we do has allowed us to find exactly who we should be selling to 99.9% of the time. That's a lesson that has been refined day after day. Every single couple who books has individualized questions and we need to ask ourselves: do we do that or do we not do that? Becoming granular has allowed us to scale relatively successfully by being so specific about what we do and who it's for,” says Lynzie.
Since 2017, The Pop-Up Chapel Co has married over 320 couples and raised over $96,000 for local charities and community organizations.