Engagement Season: Never Stress! How to quickly find the best Toronto vendors before your wedding in 2020 with ease

With 3 months of engagement season still left, it really is the most exciting time of the year. There’s nothing we love more than getting excited inquiries in our inboxes:

“I’m getting married on __________ 2020 and we are interested in learning more about your services!”

That type of email is typically a very preliminary step in the search for your team of wedding vendors that will take you from planning to wedding day. But there are some key steps that you absolutely cannot miss if you want the best vendors for your wedding. Now they may not be the best in Toronto, but they are the best for YOU. Remember that!

  1. It’s more than just about pricing

CO0A9361There are so many moving parts within the services that wedding professionals offer and it can be difficult to know exactly what the value of a service should be when you know nothing about it. So- you need to deepen your knowledge of what these professionals do. It’s not as simple as slapping a cake together the night before, or ordering some flowers to make some table arrangements. In order to truly appreciate the value of a service, you have to understand it. Ask questions! If you don’t understand why the flowers you want are so expensive? Ask. If you don’t realize how much time and money (yes I said money) goes into planning a wedding? ASK. Get a better understanding of the service, what it entails, the amount of time and resources it takes and once you understand that, pricing will make sense.

2. Don’t just communicate via email

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Okay, no one has time, we’ve established this and making time is a pain but it’s necessary. Why? Because you aren’t JUST hiring a decorator, you aren’t JUST hiring a planner, you aren’t JUST hiring a DJ- they are a whole person. Yes, they are providing a service and the service might be amazingly priced and they might do stunning pictures…but what if you don’t get along? What if you don’t like their process? What if they don’t feel the need to respond to emails as quickly as you would like? What if their laid back manner makes you feel like they aren’t taking your concerns seriously? Wedding professionals are PEOPLE with personalities, do they mesh with you? You can’t always tell over email so get on the phone with them or meet them for coffee. Your level of comfort and how reassured you feel afterwards will assist you greatly when choosing from such a large pool.

3. Respond to emails

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This one drives me batty and yes, I’m going to call it as I see it. 9 times out of 10 you reach out to wedding vendors to get more information, pricing etc. Wedding professionals respond (hopefully in a timely manner) send you information, and then radio silence. You reached out to us, needing our assistance. Have the courtesy to respond back, even if you decide to go with someone else. Let us know, we won’t be offended but to just leave us in limbo is not only rude, but it doesn’t make for a professional relationship. Frankly, a client that doesn’t respond to my emails is telling me they don’t value my service at all. If the expectation if for wedding pros to respond to YOU within a certain amount of time, why can’t we have the same expectation? I don’t keep wedding dates open for long, if I have to send more than 2 follow up emails, I already don’t want to work with you because you don’t value my time. Someone else will!

4. Be transparent

MakeupTell us what you want! Don’t be “iffy” or constantly change your mind (because that is a huge mistake that will cost you!). Just let us know what you want, what you are thinking, what is your best case scenario, what are back up options and we will do whatever we can to make it happen. And if you don’t know…tell us that too! We are there to work it out and work alongside you, that’s how we support you. I love being able to present options to a couple if they “just don’t know” because at the very least it gives you some ideas to start with. But if you don’t tell us what you want, what your vision is, we can’t give you our best. We can’t streamline our talent and creativity without being pointed in some sort of direction. This is YOUR day, we will make it happen if you just tell us what you want!

The Best Black Friday deals ever in Toronto to consider shopping this season before you get married in 2020

Vanessa-Pavin-Wedding-Sneak-Peeks-002.jpgEngagement season has just begun and Black Friday is around the corner. You might be thinking “What on earth do I shop for on Black Friday that’s wedding related!?” Keep reading!

Black Friday sample sales & trunk shows

If you don’t have your wedding dress or your bride tribe doesn’t have their dresses, this is the perfect opportunity to shop. Dying for a designer gown? Kleinfeld Canada is having a Black Friday Sample Sale where you get up to 90% off gowns by Clara Rosa, Pnina Tornai and Maggie Sottero. Call 416.861.4800 to book your appointment.

Buy wedding favors in bulk

Vanessa-Pavin-Wedding-Blog-Images-183If you’re having a larger wedding and need to buy favors in bulk? Now is the time to start looking for exactly what you want! Hop onto Amazon and be sure to set yourself up for Prime and research pricing and quantities. Black Friday deals mean price reductions and savings on items you are looking to nab!

Order wedding invitations for less

If you are considering cute “Save the Dates” or actual wedding invitations, websites like Minted that typically offer percentages off will have a great Black Friday sale. Create an account and start browsing invitation styles and be sure you know exactly what you want to go on the invite. You want to be able to take advantage quickly. Also, side note, since these guys are online, it might be worth it to wait until Cyber Monday when deals are better and geared towards online shopping!

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Coupon codes for printing wedding stationary

Are you designing your own seating chart? Signage for dessert and cocktail tables? Name place cards? If you have everything ready to go on a USB stick, Vista Print is your next stop! Upload your designs where you want them, check them over carefully and plug in that Black Friday coupon code!

Black Friday deals on wedding accessories

Oakview+Terrace+Wedding+-+Bridal+Dress-20No better time of the year to shop for shoes and jewelry! If there is a gorge pair of earrings you’ve been eyeing or a cute pair of casual sneaks your considering wearing for the reception- do it! Black Friday deals will likely be starting this week and only get better as the actual day approaches. Do your homework and price things out and DO NOT WAIT! If your shoe size is popular (think size 7) or your size is carried in limited quantities (like 10) get them if you find them.

Shop Black Friday gifts for your wedding party

Planning on getting everyone something similar or really personalized? Black Friday is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Shop around for some ideas if you aren’t quite sure what you want, and make some calls to ensure the quantities you need are available. Nothing can really be set aside that day, its typically first come first serve so be ready.

100 Insanely smart tips to help a busy bride stay on budget and save money while planning a beautiful wedding

  1. Keep your guest list small
  2. Choose flowers that are in season
  3. Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding
  4. Create & print your own invites- here’s a discount code for Minted
  5. Get married on off-peak season (November-April)
  6. Skip the plated meal and do a buffet
  7. Have more comfort food and snacks vs formal food options
  8. Rent certain items vs buying them
  9. Choose a non-traditional wedding venue: municipal park or beach
  10. Google local sample sales and trunk shows for your wedding gown
  11. Shop local outlet stores for bridesmaids’ dresses
  12. Purchase handmade items directly from the seller e.g. Etsy
  13. Ditch favors or limit them to 1 per couple
  14. Keep the ceremony and reception at the same place to cut down rentals, transportation and décor
  15. Rent your wedding dress
  16. YouTube makeup tutorials or go to Sephora for a makeup lesson then do your own makeup
  17. Swap in a sweet table instead of a dessert course
  18. Buy your own booze for the wedding
  19. Only serve appetizers during the cocktail hour
  20. Find a music student(s) to entertain during cocktail hour or for the ceremony (have them audition first!)
  21. Find a newer cake artist to make your cake
  22. Swap your cake for smaller cupcakes or tarts
  23. Limit the bar hours or have an alcohol-free wedding
  24. Instead of multiple shooters, only have 1 photographer
  25. Use wildflowers as fillers in your centerpieces
  26. Opt for sparkling wine over champagne
  27. Use a credit card to pay for vendors etc that has points or rewards so you get something back
  28. Google local wedding shows to get deals on potential vendors
  29. Use coupons or Facebook Marketplace to score deals on accessories or décor items
  30. Hire a wedding planner; what you pay them to do will end up being made up in savings because they can negotiate contracts and save you time
  31. Schedule to do cake cutting and first dance earlier in the evening to cut down on photography hours
  32. More than 3 courses for dinner might be excessive, guests should be fed but don’t overdo it
  33. Have a smaller cake created for display and cutting and have a larger slab cake in the back that gets served to guests
  34. Have a smaller bridal party to cut down costs and possibly hassle
  35. Ditch the bridal party altogether and just have a flower girl and ring bearer to save on gifts
  36. Use a playlist for the cocktail hour and dinner and a DJ for the reception party
  37. Cocktails and mixed drinks are usually more expensive at the bar so limit the options to beer and wine
  38. See if the venue has larger tables so you cut back on the amount of centerpieces
  39. Use something other than flowers for your centerpieces such as candles, picture frames, lanterns
  40. Elope or do a pop-up wedding
  41. Consider emailing your “Save the Dates”
  42. Only invite people you are close to you (you’ve seen and hung out with them in the last 5 years)
  43. Stick to the house wines offered instead of specialty ones
  44. DIY certain wedding items
  45. If one of your friends recently got married and kept some of their décor, ask to borrow it
  46. Buy things like candles and favors in bulk, the price is usually less (buy more than 50 pieces)
  47. Have your shower or rehearsal at home instead of a restaurant
  48. Naked cakes look lovely or instead choose buttercream icing over fondant
  49. Kids meals are cheaper so be sure to ask for a kids menu if you plan to have kids at the wedding or have no kids at all
  50. Only have 1 or 2 options for vegetarian or vegan meals, the more choices the more money
  51. Borrow accessories from friends or a family member instead of buying them
  52. Have the wine at dinner served rather than sitting on the table so consumption is staggered during the evening
  53. Don’t forget tips, shipping fees and taxes and gratuity to be factored into your budget
  54. Decide if you are allowing +1’s or not, additional guests can impact your budget greatly
  55. Negotiate pricing on some contracts
  56. Read over contract carefully and ask questions, it’s very easy to misunderstand something and then get overcharged
  57. Enable people to RSVP on a website instead of traditional paper RSVP’s, plus it’s easier to track
  58. See if your venue has a list of preferred vendors, sometimes they want you to use them but it might cost you. Ask if you are permitted to use outside vendors. They may require approval
  59. Find a venue that needs minimal décor
  60. Get married in a backyard garden to save on venue and décor costs
  61. Price shop for vendors to before booking anything to see if there are comparable prices available
  62. Avoid getting married on a Saturday or a long weekend, it’s the most expensive day to get married
  63. Keep appetizers between 2-3 pieces per person and keep in mind the caterer will likely try to up sell you
  64. If you are wearing a longer dress, no one will see you shoes so why splurge?
  65. Go through each item on your budget to see if there are ways to trim it down
  66. Everyone loves a good wedding trend but they are usually pricey because they are in high demand
  67. Hand write your place cards/escort cards or design them on Minted
  68. Research various wedding budgets and revise yours based on what your research finds
  69. Thank you’s to the bridal party are lovely but don’t have to break the bank
  70. Consider one big single bloom for the bouquets
  71. Don’t let vendors rope you into more than you want too (a planner can help with this) you can politely decline any add-ons
  72. Florists typically charge more for labor so buy your own flowers in bulk to save
  73. Stick to a signature cocktail during the cocktail hour and have it passed around. It will not only save on alcohol but will add a nice personal touch as well.
  74. Can we say: “Free wedding stationary printables” We said it.
  75. Instead of renting a nice car, can you borrow one from someone you know?
  76. Keep all of your receipts so you can monitor what you’ve spent
  77. Ask guests to email their RSVPs to you directly and keep an email file folder of them
  78. Choose a venue outside of a major city. Costs of downtown venues and parking can make sticking to your budget difficult
  79. Wait for a good deal to take your honeymoon instead of right afterwards. Check out Skyscanner or Next Vacay
  80. Get a dress that actually fits instead of off the rack and needing expensive alterations
  81. When in doubt, don’t buy a dress a size or two too small, it’s easier to make a larger dress smaller than the opposite
  82. For any out of town guests, ask hotels close by the wedding venue for reduced rates based on rooms booked
  83. Instead of expensive centerpieces, have empty vases on the tables and use the bridesmaid’s bouquets as centerpieces
  84. Troll Instagram and wedding websites for contests and giveaways
  85. Go to Wedding Wire and see if any vendors you need are offering discounts on their services
  86. Buy as much as you can in bulk (food, flowers, candy) rather than specialty stores that will have higher prices
  87. Shorten your planning time, you will be much more decisive with a strict timeline
  88. Only have the photographer and videographer cover just the ceremony
  89. See if videography can be added to your photography package instead of hiring 2 separate vendors
  90. Any leftover wedding items you have, sell them online
  91. Use the word “wedding” only when necessary (like with venues and photographers) sometimes there’s an up charge
  92. Only splurge on ONE thing like good food or music
  93. Find out if there is a minimum spend at the venue if they have in house catering. Usually if you make the minimum spend, they waive the venue rental fee
  94. Keep your invites to a singe sheet, pretty but simple. It will save on postage
  95. Ask friends to help where they can, as ushers, officiant, MC, DJ
  96. Sew your own table runners with fabric you purchase yourself
  97. Silk and paper flowers go a long way
  98. Skip the traditional wedding dress shops and go to major retailers like Le Chateau or Etsy for your dress
  99. Consider a different time of day: Morning or afternoon so you save on dinner food
  100. Make sure you and your partner are both on the same page on where to splurge and where to cutback!

Style Shoot: Woodland Escape

I had the privilege of being able to do outdoor shoots last year for Elegant Wedding Magazine. I shared the first one with you all, Spring Garden at the Toronto Botanical Gardens in Toronto.

This shoot was very different and I loved it for that reason. It was paramount that as many natural elements were included to maintain an organic feel. It’s not often an outdoor wedding can utilize most of the natural elements outside to contribute to the overall tone of the event style. But it can be done!

Here are some of our favorite shots of this simply stunning shoot!

To see more head on over to the Elegant Wedding Magazine blog post Moody Woodland Forest Wedding

Vendor Credits:

Venue: Fantasy Farms
Photographer: The Butterfly Photography
Florals: Divine Flowers Toronto
Dresses: Mona Lisa Bridal Gallery
Table Top Decor: Plate Occasions
Rentals: Chairman Mills
Decor and Props: Cre8ive Studios
Stationary: GM Calligraphy
Cake and Confections: Dolce Vita Cakes by Albina
HMUA: Makeup Couture/ Hair Couture

Style Shoot: Spring Garden

Wedding season is right around the corner so here is some Spring Garden inspo my team and I created at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.

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Planning: AVP Weddings & Events | Photography: White Lotus Wedding Studios | Flowers: CA Flowers | Makeup & Hair: Miss Thani | Dress: Vera Wang Toronto | Decor: Glamourous Affairs Inc. | Rentals: Chair-man Mills | Linens: Linen Closet | Stationery: GM Calligraphy | Cake & Desserts: Fruitilicious Cakes | Popsicles: Happy Pops | Engagement Ring: Michael Hill | Model: ICON Models (Diana) | Venue: Toronto Botanical Gardens

Behind the scenes: A sneak peek of the Galia Lahav SS19 Collection at White Toronto

Yesterday, was the first day of the Galia Lahav trunk show at White Toronto, so we stopped by to take a peek at the new collection! Stunning fabrics, appliques and tulle, intricate beading and crystals, dramatic shoulders and beautiful trains.

 

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Royal Wedding: Updates on Meghan & Harry’s big day

It’s been a whirlwind these last few weeks leading up to what will be the biggest wedding of our time- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!

I can’t tell you how excited I am- she’s lived in our city, is a talented actress, she’s half-black and beautiful, down to earth and essentially “one of us” in the sense that she has zero royal blood.

The guestlist includes Priyanka Chopra, Sir Elton John, George & Amal Clooney, the Spice Girls and Victoria Beckham will be bringing her husband. Others who will attend are her bestie Jessica Mulroney and her husband Ben and 3 children who’ve been named page boys and flower girl. Serena Williams, her Suits co-stars and designer Misha Nonoo.

As for her dress some speculate British designer Ralph & Russo as the brand designed Meghan’s stunning dress for the engagement photos. Another possibility is a final “bow out” for Christopher Bailey of Burberry. However when her mother arrived on Tuesday, she was carrying a Burberry garment bag- so maybe not. Stewart Parvin, one of the Queen’s dressers, could be in the running as well since he has been personally approved by the royal family. Some bets are on Alexander McQueen who designed Duchess Kate’s lovely gown but perhaps she will go with a Canadian designer? In any case, we are bursting with anticipation!

The most recent and unexpected update is that Meghan’s father will not be attending due to health concerns. I can’t imagine how devastating it must have been for her to find this out just days before her wedding. She made her first statement yesterday from Kensington Palace:

Statement

Some have voiced their disapproval of her careful choice in wording when she mentions “I have always cared for my father” but guys cut her some slack. She is a royal now and it has never been encouraged to openly express emotion and is likely considered inappropriate. If you don’t believe me, find clips of Princess Diana’s funeral- you won’t see a tear on her sons faces. We all know she’s devastated.

It was announced earlier today that she has asked her future Father-in Law His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to accompany her down the aisle of the Quire of St. George’s Chapel.

Statement2

However, he will not be escorting her the entire way, she will walk most of the processional alone making royal history as she will be the first British royal to enter her ceremony alone. You go girl! She will be met by a clergy member at the doors and walk unaccompanied through the chapel with her bridesmaids, pages and officiant walking ahead of her. Once she reaches the Quire, Prince Charles will walk her towards Harry but will he will not be giving her away- she will walk the last few steps to Harry by herself.

The royal wedding is tomorrow starting at 7 a.m EST so if you are willing to sacrifice your Saturday sleep in sesh to tune in for this- you will be with me!

NEW website and features

The warm weather is FINALLY here in Toronto (it only took us 6 months and an ice storm) it was hard to stay inspired this past winter. However, we managed to redo our entire website which made me very excited!

Of course, there are some tweaks to be made still but overall, I am very happy with it! It’s cleaner, better images, new logo, the ability to book a consultation online and download a planning checklist!

The option to sign up for free advice, tips and special offers is also something I am happy we were able to make happen. I think its important for a website to be more than just a collection of photos and services- we should be able to showcase we have to offer!

That being said, for the month of May we are offering 10% off of all our Partial Planning Packages! We know engaged couples have a lot on their plates and a partial planning gives you 20 hours of my time allotted to areas of planning determined by you.

Some couples use this for things like:

  • Budget creation & management
  • Vendor recommendations
  • Seating chart arrangement
  • Booking/attending vendor appointments
  • Creation of “day of” schedule

And the best part of this package is that it also includes our Day of Coordination Package.

As a final send off on this post, we encourage you beautiful couples to download our FREE wedding planning checklist to help keep you on schedule!

 

How to prepare for your wedding planning consult

It doesn’t take long after your acceptance of the proposal for you to realize there is piles of work to do! It can seem daunting but one of the wisest things you could consider doing is hiring a planner. If it’s not a full planning, day of coordination can take so much weight off your shoulders.

When you start your search for a planner here are some questions you need to be prepared to answer:

  1. “What is your wedding date?” Seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal if you don’t have that figured out just yet, but the reality is that planners live by schedules. So, in order for us to even know if we are available to help you- we need to know your wedding date!
  2. “What is your total wedding budget?” Having this discussion with your partner before you book a consultation is important. Most potential clients want to know how much planning costs, but we can’t give proper quotes for services unless we know what your max budget is.
  3. “How many guests do you plan to have?” This is another important question that helps planners determine their fee. To put into perspective: If you plan to have 300 guests, it’s common sense that a planner would then need an assistant. Paying an assistant will be factored into whatever quote is given.
  4. “Do you have a venue yet?” If you do then let us know, we have already done a wedding there and have connections we can utilize. On the flip side, if we haven’t done a wedding there, then a site visit will be necessary, so we can meet the coordinator and see the space.
  5. “What is your vision?” WHAT DO YOU SEE??! When you think of your wedding day, what do you envision it to be like? Rustic chic with pastels and copper accents? Modern minimalist with greenery and crisp white linens? When you know your “couple style” it makes it easier to create a “inspiration/mood” board. We need to see and feel what you do!
  6. “Are there any “absolutely no ways” for your wedding day?” Certain family members, colors, number of dresses…as planners coming up with ideas is part of the job, but we don’t want to come up with suggestions that are a no go on your list. So be clear about what you do not want…ever.
  7. “What service are you interested in?” This can be discussed at the consultation but to have a general idea is helpful for us. If you are a super busy couple, always on the go and worry about not having time- full planning might be the best option. If your wedding is a few months away and you’ve done a portion of the planning, then partial planning might work better. Day of coordination is for couples who want to undertake the planning aspects but have a planner manage the day of execution, so they can enjoy the day.
  8. “What do you want in a planner?” Not all planners will ask you this, but I will. Do you want someone who leaves most of the decision making up to you? Or is trusting someone to take charge and take the lead more what you want?

If you are prepared to answer these key questions, you will have a very productive first consult with your potential planner!

The Ultimate Guide to Sample Sales

A sample sale is not the same as a trunk show so let’s get that out of way! Trunk shows are special events where a bridal boutique will invite a designer (usually not located in the area) to show off their collection. It could be anywhere from a weekend or several days long. It’s a fantastic opportunity for brides to try on gowns from a visiting designer and appointments usually book up fast!

Samples sales however are first come, first serve for anyone who wants to get a designer dress at a large discount. The boutique allows you to try them on in the store and typically you don’t have a stylist who’s there assisting you. Sizes will range, and the dresses are usually well taken care of but you may not get something perfect since many women might be trying on the same dress. If it’s your first time trying on gowns it might not be a good idea to make a sample sale your first stop since you must decide to buy on the spot.

Tips

  1. Wear nude underwear…preferably a thong and a good strapless bra. You want to have as realistic idea as you can when you try each dress on.
  2. Know what your budget is. Usually the gowns will be organized by price range and this will help you stay within price range. Prices might be reduced from 20-80% but if you choose a newer style it may cost more.
  3. Bring a friend but not your entire crew. Too many opinions and different tastes will become overwhelming and won’t help you.
  4. Have an idea as to what style of dress you want. Keep in mind your body shape, areas you may or may not want to hide or accentuate. Knowing this in advance will help you sift through the dress styles you don’t want and save you time.
  5. Be sure to research the designer to make sure the styles they may offer will suit what you are looking for.
  6. Keep in mind that sample sale dresses can always be altered. Frays and lace can be trimmed and fixed up.
  7. Bring a pair of shoes as close to the height you plan to wear on your wedding day. Hems can be shortened not lengthened.
  8. Be aware of your timeline, while sample sale dresses are there and available, anything you may decide to order can take up to 8 months to be made and shipped
  9. Have cash ready, unlike regular wedding gowns where a deposit is made and the rest settled later- sample sale dresses are expected to be paid for up front.
  10. Have fun and be open to assorted styles of gowns. You may have your heart set on a certain style, but another might suit you just as well. I always say, never judge how a dress looks on the hanger, sometimes once you put it on it surprises you!

Ask your planner to keep an eye out on any sample sales in the area and to let you know so you can get prepped, primed and ready!