The wedding industry would be nothing without passion—both the passion of the bride and groom and the passion of wedding planners and consultants whose goal is to make the wedding day a testament to love. Miss Dorothy Penner, MBC™, a long-time Association of Bridal Consultant (ABC) member from Louisville, Ky., knew and embodied this. She was also a firm believer in continuing education and annual conference, which is why she established the Miss Dorothy Scholarship. The scholarship allows two ABC members to attend annual conference each year and covers registration fees and a stipend.

Penner died of cancer on Dec. 23, 1998, but not before her impact was felt. The scholarship continues to this day, and the ABC chose to honor her legacy with the Miss Dorothy Penner Heart Award for Passion and Excellence to the Wedding Industry. Started the year before her death, it is the only award the ABC bestows. Here’s what recipients of both honors have to say:

The Miss Dorothy Heart Award
Teddy Lenderman, MBC™, (1997) Bearable Weddings and Special Events, Greencastle, Ind.
“In 1997, my mentor, Dorothy Penner was dying—but she was also at conference, listening to Colin Cowie and asking questions about the future. I was amazed. We all were. And when they called my name as the first Heart Award winner, I went into shock. The Miss Dorothy Heart Award is the one I covet most—because I had so many experiences with Dorothy, because I had seen her in action at three major weddings, because she was a lady who never spoke negatively about anyone and always had time to answer questions, and because attending conference with her was a fantastic experience. She knew exactly what to say and when to say it. And her sense of humor—oh, my goodness, she was one in a million!”

Charlene Hein, MBC™, (2001) Everlasting Memories by Char, Lakewood, Colo.
“What a complete shock to have your name called to accept the Miss Dorothy Heart Award. It was an honor to be recognized by my peers for my passion and dedication for ABC members and the wedding industry. As the plaque says, ‘A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.’ It truly means the world to me that an organization I so deeply love, gives so much back to me. Each and every day, I continue to strive to pay it forward.”

Mary Charmoli, MBC™, (2010) Saratoga Weddings, Inc., Webster, Wis.
“Learning to awaken my passion for weddings from ‘Miss Dorothy,’
herself, was a great privilege for me. Never did I think I would be selected as one of the Miss Dorothy Heart Winners. With this award, however, goes the huge responsibility of awakening the passion and love for the industry in others. Two of my very wise mentors once told me, ‘Honey, if you love weddings, then stick with them. It will all work out’—and it has.”

The Miss Dorothy Scholarship
MacKenzie Spalding, (1998) One Fine Day Wedding Consultation, Boston, Ky.
“Attending my first conference was truly incredible and only possible due to the Miss Dorothy Scholarship. In the words of Miss Dorothy in a letter she sent to me at conference, ‘Enjoy the conference and soak up all the information you can. You will find in those meeting rooms and at the lunch tables and in the hallways, people from all over who love the wedding industry just like you. It is from other members—both new and old—that you will find the answers to the questions of ideas about how to approach a problem. All you have to do is listen, ask questions, and listen some more.’  Continuing education and the relationships I have developed are vital to continued business success. I encourage members new and old to attend conferences, utilize the vast resources of the ABC, and soak it up, listen, and learn as much as you can.”

Stephanie Isbell MacDonald, PBC™, (2007) Planned Perfection Events, Louisville, Ky.
“Miss Dorothy had an overwhelming dedication and passion for the wedding industry, and being chosen as a recipient of the scholarship she founded and felt so strongly about was truly a tremendous honor. The scholarship not only helped me attend my very first annual conference, it took my passion for the industry to a new level. The education was phenomenal and I had the opportunity to meet so many great people from around the world. The connections I made and the inspiration it provided helped jump start my business. Miss Dorothy always said ‘you can’t afford not to go’ and I truly believe that.”

Amanda Niemotka, PBC™, (2008) Amanda Events, West Plains, Mo.
“The year before I won, I had applied and lost. That year, my letter to the judges was everything I thought I was supposed to write. In 2008, I decided to just write. My letter was from the heart, totally sincere, and, to my surprise, it won me the scholarship.  It was the biggest honor of my life. I learned a long list of things at that conference that I still reference. I gained the confidence I needed to push forward as a wedding planner, and began amazing friendships.”

Apply or Nominate Online
The ABC is looking for the next Miss Dorothy Scholarship recipients and Miss Dorothy Heart Award winner. Scholarships can be applied for by July 31 and will be announced on Sept. 1. Nominations for Miss Dorothy Heart Award are due by August 15. Applications and nomination forms are available at www.BridalAssn.com. Click on “Members.” The selection committee includes: Chairman Teddy Lenderman, MBC™ and Judges Frank Andonoplas, MBC™, Char Hein, MBC™, and Beth Penner Torstrick, PBC™, Dorothy Penner’s daughter.

To download the application forms visit www.BridalAssn.com under “ABC Members”section.

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