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Advice Wedding Dresses Wedding Planning

Wedding Dress Timelines

Let’s talk wedding dress timelines.

Now that we are launching into our busy season here at Sinders, we’ve had a lot of questions on timelines. So that brings forth the tell-tale question:

“When SHOULD you be starting your journey on finding your wedding gown?”

Well, the truth is – it depends.

On average, wedding dresses can take between 6-9 months to order. This is of course paired with manufacturing, shipping, receiving, customization, accessorizing and general alterations. It can result in a recommended start date of up to 12 months before your desired wedding date.

Before you hit the panic button, we are going to help break down those factors for you. That way, you can be ready to hit the ground running when the time comes.

Here are the top 7 things to consider when crafting your wedding dress timeline:

1. What is your wedding vision?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what goes into the creation of a garment, let us first start at the beginning.

It is no surprise that the minute you become engaged, an overwhelming number of questions start to pop into your head. Some of which you might not have considered when it comes to planning a wedding.

Location. Time of year. Guest list. Theme. Wedding party. Décor.

It can be a lot to think about.

BUT – these things are all integral pieces to solidifying your wedding vision and ultimately understanding what you may be looking for in a wedding dress.

You might have always envisioned yourself in a beautiful ballgown. Or a sweeping train. Heck maybe even satin ensemble.

Will this be what you may end up falling for?

Perhaps not.

But having an idea of your likes and dislikes are a great starting point.  Especially when knowing what type of timeline you will find yourself on when shopping for your dress. And even more so if this might include customizations.

2. What is the difference in dress designers?

A large reason that we provide such a wide timeframe when talking about timelines is due to the difference in designers we carry.

Simply put, no two designers are the same.

We don’t know which wedding dress that you are likely to say ‘yes’ to. So, it is extremely difficult for us to say exactly what your timeline should look like.

Rest assured though; each designer works diligently to ensure that your gown arrives nothing short of everything you imagined!

Beyond that, our talented team of stylists are here to help make your shopping experience seamless and extraordinary!

If you have your eye on a particular designer before starting your shopping journey, do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

3. How many appointments is too many?

Far too often, we hear of brides having gone to dozens of stores, tried hundreds of wedding dresses and feel absolutely overwhelmed with the thought of having to choose. Or, brides so overpacked with appointment after appointment, that they don’t truly get the opportunity to live in the moment when they find the gown that beats them all!

We are by no means saying that going to a few different stores is a bad idea.

In fact, we suggest selecting even 2-3 of your favourite stores to really maximize your shopping experience. Go ahead – discover your style and explore your options!

Just do not overdo it!

We promise you after dozens of dresses and multiple appointments, it will start to become much more difficult to make a confident and informed decision. Plus, if you are someone who finds it difficult making daily decisions, this fact will only be magnified when trying on an abundance of gowns.

So, when shopping for your wedding dress trust the opinions of those around you. Your entourage, your stylist and most importantly – yourself. The joy and exuberance you feel when finally putting on ‘your dress’ should not be lost in the hustle and bustle of traffic.

If you know in your heart of hearts that you want to explore your options – do it!

In fact, consider making each of your selected stores a unique destination. Each store you visit will have its’ own unique atmosphere, selection, and ambiance. So let yourself enjoy them!

Do your research ahead of time. That way, you can go into each and every appointment prepared and knowing that you could very well walk out with your perfect dress!

Oh, and when you are ready to make your appointment with Sinders Bridal, let us be your final destination of course ;). 

4. Are there any external factors that could be impacting the industry?

You might be thinking, what the heck does this have to do with my shopping timeline?

The answer is, quite a bit.

As we have seen over these past two years, our ecosystem is fragile. From mandated closures to capacity limits, wedding postponements to shipping delays. We can never know what the future holds for our brides or the industry. So timelines become even more important.

If you have the time – consider working some wiggle room into your timeline. We promise you, the last thing you want to be when shopping for your dress is stressed out.

Not sure if your timeline will work? Give us a call. We can help you work through your timeline and make sure you are dressed and ready for your big day!

5. What goes into making the physical wedding gown?

This might seem implied, but give yourself time when shopping. Let the magic of your dress happen. Although it is completely possible to walk out of the store with a dress in your hand – more often than not, your journey is just beginning.

In fact – your dress can take 6-9 months to make its journey from your initial deposit to walking down the aisle.

From production and manufacturing to shipping and delivery. Your wedding dress takes months before arriving back at our boutique. From there, our dedicated quality control group will receive your gown, thoroughly checking each and every aspect of your gown. From seams to clasps and intricate beadwork. It is our job to be meticulous and ensure that your gown ready from top to bottom.

Once you’ve received your call and are able to come meet your dress – it is time to prepare for alterations. Depending on the amount of customizations you have gone with, alterations can take anywhere from 3-4 months to complete.

Add in shopping for accessories and some buffer room for yourself and we have quite a timeline!

Note: It felt wrong to not mention the incredible work that also goes into our custom wedding veils. Many of our veils at Sinders Bridal are hand-made with intricate beading and matching lacework that can take upwards of 5-6 months to complete. The last thing you want is to say yes to your dress and not give yourself enough time to find your perfect veil. Keep this in mind when creating your wedding timeline.  

6. What services do your chosen bridal boutiques offer?

Understanding what services are offered at your chosen bridal boutiques can have a large influence on your timeline.

Will you have the time needed to make the decision? Are you able to bring the number of guests you desire? Do they offer alterations and customizations?

The bottom line is every bridal boutique you visit will have the bread and butter of what you’re looking for (a wedding dress). Finding the right boutiques that have the offerings you are looking for can be the difference between weeks or months added to your timeline.

For the sake of an example, let’s say you are looking for a jaw-dropping train on your wedding dress.

Now, there is an excellent selection of wedding dresses on the market today that would be the perfect selection for your wedding day! Many options can be found both in-person or online. Each can be an incredible choice that will have little impact on your shopping timeline.

However, let’s say that having this train is non-negotiable.

If having a piece that’s your specific taste and style preferences is important, do not be surprised by a longer timeline. Finding that exact dress without having customization can be extremely difficult. You may find yourself at multiple appointments. With hundreds of gowns. All before realizing what you want may not exist on the market.

Enter customizations.

Customizations, although more time intensive, require skill and expertise of a dedicated team. A team who not only has familiarity with wedding dresses, but with your specific gown.

In this specific example, finding a bridal boutique that has a dedicated alterations team is important. A team experienced with the dresses can be the difference of dozens of headaches and one smooth and seamless shopping experience.  

Do your research. 

Choosing the correct stores for the experiences you want can ensure that your piece comes out as a perfect representation and reflection of who you are.

Did we mention at Sinders Bridal, you get exclusive access to Ottawa’s premiere seamstresses? 

7. Are you on a condensed timeline?

Okay, so we’ve given you what seems like a dozen reasons to give yourself as much time as possible when starting wedding dress shopping. You might be thinking, Oh crap, I do not have that much time – I will never find a dress!”.  

That is certainly not the case.

Although more often than not the dresses are ordered – that does not mean that you can’t find a dress on a tight timeline.

Maybe you chose to have a short engagement. Or something has accelerated your plans and suddenly your day is fast approaching.

Enter sample gowns.

Yes, you heard us correctly. You can buy sample gowns right off the floor and walk out of a bridal store with your dress in hand!

Okay, okay, okay.

The options when going this route might be a little more limited, but where there is a will, we will find a way! In fact, there are often hundreds of sample gowns on the floor at one time, so rest assured that your gown is out there.

Let’s get real.

What is most important is to give yourself time, and know in your heart what feels right to you. Because, we could go on and on when it comes to talking timelines.

The moral of the story is – the longer your timeline, the less stressful. In the end, it isn’t our wedding day.

But… maybe consider making us your last stop.

Have your ‘Say Yes’ moment with Sinders. 

We will be behind you every step of the way. To inform you, provide for you, cheer you on and help you thrive. From the moment you walk in the doors, to the final fitting before your big day. Because when you become a Sinders bride, you become family. Every step of your engagement!

So go out there and shine beautiful.

Until next time,

The Sinders Team

 

Categories
Wedding Planning

Bridesmaid duties and responsibilities

You have been asked to stand with one of your closet friends as she takes this important step in her life. Whether you love weddings or think they are a waste of money, you should still feel honoured that the bride values your relationship so much that she wants you not just to attend, but to participate in her special day.

You may be thinking that being a bridesmaid simply means buying a dress and standing at the front of the ceremony site while the couple say “I do,” but that is actually only one of multiple duties.

Being a bridesmaid has quite a few responsibilities, and more expenses then just the dress. Below I’ve explained the customary bridesmaid duties and what she is responsible for financially.

Duties & Responsibilities

A bride should never assume that a her party knows exactly what her anticipated bridesmaid duties are, especially since every bride has different expectations.

Today, many brides send out an email to their bridesmaid to let them know what her plans and (reasonable) expectations are, and what the bridesmaids should be available for.

Customary Bridesmaid Duties:

  • Assist bride in any reasonable way with any wedding planning
  • Accompany bride dress shopping for wedding gown if she asks you too (some brides take their entire bridal party, others just take their maid of honour and other family members)
  • Accompany bride dress shopping for bridesmaids dresses
  • Run errands up to and on the day of the wedding
  • Attend all wedding related events/parties if possible
  • Assist maid/matron of honour in planning bridal shower and bachelorette party, and contribute to costs financially
  • Give a gift at the bridal shower and wedding or contribute to a group gift
  • One or two bridesmaids should record the item and recipient of all gifts at the shower
  • Assist bride in making/assembling save the dates, wedding invitations, and/or wedding favors
  • Assist as co-hostess for all wedding related events; mingle and introduce guests, make sure people are enjoying themselves, etc.
  • Pay for your own attire (dress, shoes, jewelry, hair piece, etc), hairstyling, and make-up (unless the bride has stated she is paying for this)
  • Arrange for your own transportation for the day of, unless the bride has already done so
  • Pay for your own accommodations if you live out of town. Some sources say this is the responsibility of the couple, but majority agree it is the responsibility of the bridesmaid.  If you are unsure, check with the bride to see if she’ll be swallowing this cost or not.
  • Possibly give a speech at the rehearsal dinner (some brides choose a bridesmaid for this task since the maid/matron of honour gives a speech at the wedding)
  • Walk in the processional, stand/sit at the front of the ceremony site during the ceremony, walk in the recessional
  • Greet guests in the receiving line if the bride asks you too
  • Assist the maid of honour with the bride’s bustle if necessary
  • Dance with your designated groomsman at the end of the couple’s dance if they are following this tradition
  • Participate in the bouquet toss

Maid/Matron of Honour

The maid/matron of honour is the primary bridal attendant. She is the bride’s right-hand-woman for the entire wedding planning process and on the big day.
The role is the same for a maid or matron of honour. History simply created the different terms to distinguish whether the lady was single (maid) or married (matron).

On top of the customary bridesmaids duties listed above, the maid/matron of honour has the additional duties of:

  • Initiate and coordinate the bridal shower and bachelorette party (unless another bridesmaids wishes to take on this responsibility)
  • Coordinate group gift from the bridesmaids for the shower and/or wedding if you are doing one
  • Ensure all bridesmaids have ordered their dresses in time, and get any alterations needed in time
  • Hold the groom’s ring during the ceremony if there is no ring bearer
  • Hold the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony (be prepared, these can be heavier than they look)
  • Serve as the ceremonial/legal witness for the marriage
  • Straighten the bride’s train after the processional, before the recessional, and during the photos
  • Make a speech/toast at the reception, and possibly at the rehearsal dinner
  • Bustle the bride’s train at the reception (it helps to attend a fitting with the bride so you are shown how to do this. You might need another bridesmaid’s assistance as well).
  • Assist the bride in changing out of her wedding gown if she is changing outfits
  • Have a list of contact’s from the bride (parents, vendor, officiant, caterer, dj/band, etc.) so you can handle any glitches that occur on the big day so the bride can remain stress free

Being prepared for emergencies is always a good idea. No matter how hard the bride has worked to make her special day perfect, something can go wrong.  To help with the minor mishaps on the day it’s suggested that bridesmaids have an emergency tool kit with them.  When at your seamstress ask for suggestions on any items you should have on hand (ex. needle/thread, safety pins) for any unexpected emergencies.

Other suggestions to include in your kit are aspirin/ibuprofen, bandages, bobby pins, etc.

Who Picks the Dress and Accessories?

Yes you are paying for the dress. Yes you are the one wearing the dress. However, the final decision on what dress the bridesmaids are wearing is up to the bride since it is her day.
A good bride will take your budget and opinion into her consideration, but ultimately she does make the decision.

Some brides are letting their bridesmaids choose their own gowns given some specific parameters; such as colour, length, material, and/or designer.  In this case it’s always a good idea to make sure the bride does give her ok on your dress before you purchase it to make sure it goes with her vision.

When getting alterations on your dress, make sure you wear the same undergarments you’re going to be wearing on the actual day of the wedding. Undergarments do affect how a gown sits and fits.

Also make sure your undergarments are not visible underneath the dress. This occurred at a wedding I was a bridesmaid in. Minutes before we were getting ready to leave we noticed one bridesmaid’s black underwear was showing through her coral gown. Luckily we were in the hotel yet so she could run back to her room and change.

Some brides want a unified look, right down to the toes, so they ask their bridesmaids to all purchase the same pair of shoes and other accessories. Other brides give general specifications (ex. nude pump, pearl stud earrings, etc) but let the girls choose the exact items themselves.
So before you run out and start accessorizing your look find out what the bride has decided.

Hair, Make-Up, Nails

It’s customary for the bridesmaids to pay for their own hair, make-up, and nails. Again, some brides want a certain look for their wedding. Which means all their girls to have an up-do, matching nails, etc. While other brides let the girls choose what works for them.

If the bride doesn’t inform you of her choice, you should check with her or the maid of honour. Don’t make any assumptions either way.

Some brides do decide to pay for this service for their girls as part of her thank you for helping her with her special day. However, this is not a requirement so make sure you leave room in your budget for these services unless the bride tells you otherwise.

Being a bridesmaid should be an enjoyable experience for you. It’s a great time to enjoy the relationship you have with your friend. It can also be a busy and stressful time which can put a strain on your friendship.

To help reduce the stress, it’s always a good idea to find out what the bride’s expectations of your bridesmaid duties are at the beginning. Let the bride know what your budget and time availability is for the event, and to remember that this is a time for celebration so don’t let the little things bog you both down.

Categories
Wedding Planning

How to plan the wedding of your dreams, part 1: under $10,000

To offer our brides-to-be a lay of the land on wedding planning and budgeting, we’ve created a three-part series filled with helpful information to make your experience more enjoyable. In Part I we’ll dive into wedding planning under the 10K mark – seems impossible, right?

READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART II: UNDER $30,000
READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART III: OVER $50,000

REALISTIC WEDDING PLANNING ADVICE FOR BRIDES ON A BUDGET

It’s no secret that the cost of getting married is getting higher and higher, making it feel as if achieving your dream, Pinterest-worthy wedding is far out of reach.

However, just because you have a tighter budget for your wedding, doesn’t mean you need to make tons of sacrifices or go into debt. Because contrary to what you may have heard, planning a beautiful wedding under $10,000 is completely attainable.

THE AVERAGE COST OF WEDDINGS

According to Wedding Wire, the average cost of a wedding in Canada is a whopping $29,450. As you pick your jaw up off the floor, keep in mind that down in the U.S, the cost is even higher – $44,000!

So how is all this money being spent?

Wedding costs that eat up the most of your budget typically include:

  • Venue
  • Open bar
  • Photography and videography
  • Catering
  • Flowers

Fortunately, there are tons of ways to cut costs on all these major expenses without sacrificing your vision.

HOW TO HAVE AN AMAZING WEDDING WITHOUT OVERSPENDING OR SACRIFICING THE THINGS YOU WANT

After you have determined your budget and are ready to jump into the planning process, come up with a list of things that are absolutely necessary (open bar, videography, decorations, your dream dress, etc.) and the little things you’d love to have but can live without (favours, calligraphy, certain types of flowers, etc.).

This will help establish your priorities so you can better allocate your budget.

And for the key elements of any wedding that you absolutely cannot live without, here are some tips for reducing the financial blow.

AREAS WHERE YOU CAN CUT COSTS WHEN WEDDING PLANNING

YOUR VENUE

Average cost: $22,500

Your venue is usually the biggest expense of any wedding and can set you back anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000.

Furthermore, most venues will charge significantly higher rates and require a minimum of 100 to 125 guests for weddings taking place during the most popular times to get married (Saturdays from May to October).

But this doesn’t mean you need to need to pay an arm and a leg to have both an amazing venue and a spring or summer wedding on a weekend. The key is to think outside of the box when researching venues and look for locations that aren’t necessarily marketed as wedding venues. That’s because the venues that don’t often host weddings typically won’t charge as much as traditional venues.

This can include parks, university campuses, art galleries, restaurants, farms, and wineries.

Another option is to host a backyard wedding at yours’ or a family member’s home or book an Airbnb or other vacation rental. Just make sure you confirm with the owner of the property that they are okay with you hosting an event before booking. You will also need to make sure there are enough parking and bathroom facilities for your guests.

MUSIC

Average cost: $1,750

You don’t actually need to spend a lot of money to hire a band or DJ in order to get everyone out on the dancefloor at the end of the night. Sign up for a premium Spotify (or other music streaming service) account and build your perfect wedding playlist. Then purchase or rent a large speaker that connects to Bluetooth and assign someone from your wedding party to take care of the music. Not only will this save you money, but it will also ensure you have complete control over what music is played.

FOOD

Average cost: $70 per person

Instead of a fancy, traditional meal, opt for something more casual like a barbeque buffet.

Another great way to save on food costs is to ask caterers if they have a self-service option. This means they would provide just the food, with no setup or serving staff for a reduced price.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Average cost: $2,679

When it comes to photography, experience does not necessarily mean talent. So, don’t be afraid to hire an up and coming photographer – or photography student – that doesn’t have a lot of experience. Base your decision around the strength of their skills and portfolio, rather than the number of weddings they have shot.

Because lots of talented photographers will offer lower rates if they have less experience than other established wedding photographers.

INVITATIONS

Average cost: $386

Traditional paper invitations can provide a beautiful keepsake for your guests. But let’s face it, more often than not, they eventually end up in the trash.

Instead, opt for digital invitations sent out via email through a service like Paperless Post. Such a service will help you design and customize a beautiful invitation and Save the Date card and keep track of your responses, but for a significantly lower cost.

FLOWERS

Average cost: $3,000

Flowers are often at the top of a bride’s wish list when planning a wedding but can end up being one of the biggest expenses.

Rather than spending thousands of dollars on bouquets and other floral décor and arrangements, consider the idea of faux flowers. Faux flowers can look just as real as actual flowers and are much more cost-effective. Plus, going with faux flowers will ensure you get the exact flowers you want, without having to worry about them not being in season.

Faux flowers will also allow you to set up your decorations in advance without having to worry about wilting.

GUEST LIST

Average Number of Guests: 167

When devising your guest list, it can be incredibly difficult to keep your guest count low, especially if there is pressure from your families to invite certain people.

But it’s important to keep in mind that the more people you invite means the more money you spend on food, alcohol, invitations, etc. Keeping your guest list to around 50-75 will help ease the stress on your bank account.

But how do you go about picking and choosing who to keep and who to cut from your guest list?

If you have not seen someone in at least two years or more, and do not have contact with them on a regular basis, keep them off the guest list. This even goes for extended family. You and your second cousin may have been close as kids, but if you have little to no relationship as adults, you don’t need to feel obligated to invite them to your wedding.

Other ways you can reduce your guest list is to only allow plus ones for spouses and long-term partners and keep your wedding an adult only (no kids) affair.

WEDDING CAKE

Average cost: $600

While a beautifully decorated multi-tiered cake is something many brides dream of having, they are also incredibly expensive and unnecessary.

Remember that by the end of the night, the cake is going to be eaten and guests will likely forget what it even looked like once it’s in their stomachs.

But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo cake altogether. Instead, get one or more non-tiered, simply decorated cakes – and don’t make any mention of a wedding to avoid the dreaded wedding markup!

Doing away with the traditional, over the top-tiered cake, will also give you the option to pick multiple cakes in different flavours to please all of your guests for a fraction of the price.

AREAS TO SPLURGE ON

When wedding planning on a smaller budget, the focus tends to be on how you can save as much money as possible. But there are some areas where you shouldn’t try to pinch pennies.

YOUR WEDDING DRESS

Every bride dreams of looking like the most beautiful version of herself on her wedding day. It is your big day after all, and you should feel confident and stunning in whatever you choose to wear.

While it’s perfectly fine to set a budget for your wedding dress, don’t make this your sole priority when choosing a gown. And most importantly, do not buy a dress just because it’s inexpensive. Make sure you absolutely love it and it makes you feel beautiful.

Because those pictures will last forever. And if you are not 100% happy with your dress, it will cloud your memories of your big day.

DRESS ALTERATIONS

If you love your wedding dress but some things just feel a bit off, do not settle. With alterations, so much can be done to transform a dress into your perfect gown. However, depending on the scope of what you want done, they can get expensive. But at the end of the day, it will be so worth it to ensure your gown looks perfect on your wedding day.

VIDEOGRAPHY

While your memories from your wedding will last a lifetime, having a videographer present will ensure they are preserved forever. In the months and years following your wedding, you will be glad to have captured all the little details on film that you will come to forget over time.

If you’re the type of bride that has been dreaming of her wedding her entire life and has multiple Pinterest boards filled with ideas, planning a wedding on a budget can be stressful and feel like you’re missing out on the wedding of your dreams. But in reality, with a little research and creativity, you don’t have to sacrifice much to have a perfect wedding.

Just remember to focus on the big things like food and drink, venue, and music, because most guests don’t care about fancy invitations, ornate ceremony programs, and over the top flower arrangements. At the end of the day, your guests won’t remember the little things, but rather the big picture, and how happy you and your new spouse were on such a special day.

Categories
Wedding Planning

How to plan the wedding of your dreams, part II: under $30,000

To offer our brides-to-be a lay of the land on wedding planning and budgeting, we’ve created a three-part series filled with helpful information to make your experience more enjoyable. In Part II, we explore the possibilities of wedding planning under $30,000 – let’s see what you can do with this budget!

READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART I: UNDER $10,000
READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART III: OVER $50,000

WEDDING PLANNING TIPS FOR A MEDIUM-SIZED BUDGET

The average cost of a wedding as of 2019 is around $30,000, which sounds like a lot, but when you break down all the expenses involved in planning a wedding, it actually falls within the mid-size range.

While a $30,000 budget can get you a lot, it also means holding back just a bit to avoid going completely over the top (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and blowing your budget.

To help you balance the two, here are some tips for planning the wedding of your dreams without going over budget.

SAMPLE BUDGET – WHAT $30,000 CAN GET YOU

If you are unsure of how much you should be spending on different areas of your wedding, here is an approximate budget breakdown for a wedding with 100 guests and a $30,000 budget.

  • Venue (all-inclusive with open bar): $17,000
  • Flowers & Décor: $2,500
  • Photo & Video: $3,600
  • Dress and Accessories: $2,500
  • Hair and Makeup for Bride and Bridal Party: $500
  • Cake and Desserts: $500
  • Music: $1,200
  • Day of Coordinator: $500
  • Other Costs (Officiant, bridal party gifts, groom’s attire, etc.) $2,000

AREAS YOU CAN SPLURGE ON

Having a healthy budget means you don’t have to cut corners when it comes to big picture items. So, try to focus most of your wedding planning budget on the following areas.

VENUE

Your wedding venue is one of the most important – and expensive – details of your wedding. It sets the tone for your entire wedding and often dictates décor, food, and so many other elements of your wedding. So, if you can afford to pay top dollar for a venue, go for it.

Most dedicated wedding venues are all-inclusive, which means the cost of renting the venue includes food, service staff, tables and chairs, alcohol for the bar, and sometimes even a day of coordinator. In other words, it’s usually worth spending a bit more money for a beautiful, well-rounded venue that will save you from spending extra time and money on other areas of your wedding

DRESS AND ACCESSORIES

While it’s true that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to look beautiful on your wedding day, it’s also important to remember that this is your special day and you deserve to treat yourself.

When shopping for dresses, don’t focus solely on the price tag. Set your sights on a gorgeous gown that makes you feel like the most beautiful version of yourself.

This also applies to accessories. The right veil, jewelry, headpiece, or other accessories can completely transform the look of your dress. So, don’t be afraid to spend a bit more to find the perfect accents to compliment your bridal look.

FOOD

The one thing people often remember most about a wedding is the food, so get creative and plan an amazing meal that your guests will be talking about even after the car ride home.

If your venue does not have its own on-site chefs, you’ll have the freedom to shop around and find your own outside caterer.

When planning out your menu, think about what kinds of foods you and your future spouse really love and care about that others will love as well.

Also be sure to take into consideration your guests’ dietary restrictions.

OPEN BAR

While a cash bar is a great way to save a huge amount of money, asking your guests to pay for cocktails, wine, and even non-alcoholic drinks often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and can cloud their perception of your special day.

So, if you can afford to do so, splurging for an open bar is a great way to show your appreciation for your guests who have come together to celebrate your love.

Also consider creating your own signature cocktail for the bartender to serve guests to help personalize your wedding.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY

Your wedding photos and video are one of the few tangible things you will be able to take away from your wedding to look back on.

As your memories start to fade, you can look back on your photos and re-live how you felt on that most special day.

Therefore, it’s important to invest in an experienced, professional photographer and videographer who will help you preserve all the little details of your big day for years to come.

DAY OF COORDINATOR

If you plan on having a big wedding with lots of guests and things going on, you may want to splurge on a wedding coordinator to help move things along and make sure everything runs smoothly during your wedding.

Unlike a planner that helps plan out your big day, a coordinator is someone who handles the logistical side of things on your actual wedding day and helps you get organized and iron out certain details during the lead up to the big day.

AREAS WHERE YOU CAN CUT COSTS

With most of your budget tied up in the big-picture items, you will likely need to find ways to save when it comes to the small stuff. Here are some recommendations for areas you can cut back on.

INVITATIONS

Custom designed invitations and save the dates look beautiful and can be a wonderful keepsake to have, but at the end of the day, most of them will end up in the trash.

Plus, the process of stuffing and stamping 100+ envelopes and having them mailed can be a major, unnecessary pain.

Instead, save both time and money by using a digital invite service such as Paperless Post that lets you choose from hundreds of beautiful designs and customize your own digital invitations and send them out to your guests via email.

YOUR DATE

While having a June wedding may be your dream, it’s important to note that it’s also one of the most expensive times to get married.

READ MORE: SETTING THE DATE!

Between May and October are considered peak season for weddings, and venues will often charge significantly more for Saturday weddings during this period.

So, if you find that your budget has become a bit tight, consider choosing a date during the off-season if you are planning an indoor affair.

But if you are set on having a wedding during peak season, think about having your wedding on a Friday or a Sunday to save on venue costs.

FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS

While everyone wants to create a beautiful ambiance at their wedding, the truth is that an abundance of flowers and decor are not something most guests tend to remember.

Plus, flowers can set you back thousands of dollars that could be better spent on more important things.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to forgo flowers altogether. Instead of filling your ceremony and reception site with an abundance of flowers, focus on having them for certain elements that are most important to you, such as a ceremony arch, bouquets, and simple centrepieces. Or, consider using high-quality silk flowers.

GUEST LIST

One of the reasons weddings tend to set you back so much money is the fact that you need to pay to feed, seat, and entertain all your guests. And when your guest count reaches 100 people or more, the costs are often astronomical.

To avoid having to make too many cutbacks and sacrifice your vision for your wedding in order to stay within budget, consider keeping your guest list on the lower side – 100 people or less.

HONEYMOON

There’s nothing more romantic than being whisked off to an amazing destination immediately after your wedding to bask in the glow of newlywed bliss. But after spending tens of thousands of dollars on your wedding, spending even more on a honeymoon can be difficult to swing.

For this reason, more and more couples are opting to delay their honeymoon for a few months until after they have settled into married life and can afford to jet off on vacation.

An added benefit to this is that you get to avoid the stress of planning and preparing for a trip on top of all the craziness of wedding planning.

FAVOURS

While favours are cute and a great way to personalize your wedding, most guests will overlook them and forget to bring them home at the end of the evening, resulting in wasted time and money on your part. Instead, focus on providing your guests with a fantastic experience that is so memorable, they won’t even miss the monogrammed candy, bottle opener, or other trinket by the end of the night.

As the cost of a wedding continues to rise, having a medium-sized budget can feel limiting, but it doesn’t have to be.

When planning your wedding, regardless of budget, always remember to think about the big picture and try not to stress about the little things.

Focus on planning an amazing event, enjoying every moment, and soaking it all in. Because at the end of the day, neither you nor your guests will be thinking about all the little extravagant details. All you will remember is how happy you and your spouse were, and how much fun you had along the way.

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Wedding Planning

How to plan a wedding with a $50,000 budget

To offer our brides-to-be a lay of the land to plan a wedding and budgeting, we’ve created a three-part series filled with helpful information to make your experience more enjoyable. In Part III, we indulge in the endless possibilities of wedding planning over $50,000 – get the wedding of your dreams!

READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART I: UNDER $10,000
READ MORE: HOW TO PLAN THE WEDDING OF YOUR DREAMS, PART II: UNDER $30,000

TIPS TO PLAN A WEDDING WHEN MONEY ISN’T A CONCERN

For those who are lucky enough to have either saved or been gifted a large sum of money to put towards your wedding, you are in a unique and fortunate position to not have any budget restrictions.

This means you get to plan your perfect wedding exactly how you’ve always imagined. However, when planning a big wedding with a budget of $50,000 and up, it can become easy to get lost in the shuffle and overwhelmed throughout the planning process.

With unlimited options and the ability to say yes to almost anything, it can be difficult to narrow down your vision and decide on all the things you actually want.

So, to help you keep your head on straight and ensure your budget is being allocated wisely – and that you are not spending unnecessarily just because you can – we’ve compiled our top wedding planning tips to help you during this incredibly exciting and stressful time.

SAMPLE BUDGET – WHERE TO ALLOCATE YOUR MONEY

  • Venue (all-inclusive with open bar): $20,000
  • Flowers & décor: $7,000
  • Photo & video: $4,000
  • Dress and accessories: $5,000
  • Hair and makeup for bride and bridal party: $1,000
  • Cake and desserts: $2,000
  • Music: $2,000
  • Wedding planner: $4,000
  • Miscellaneous costs (officiant, bridal party gifts, groom’s attire, etc.) $5,000
  • Paper goods (invitations, name cards, menus, etc.): $700

PLANNING TIPS TO AVOID GETTING OVERWHELMED

AVOID MAKING YOUR GUEST LIST TOO LARGE

When planning a formal, luxurious wedding, it can feel tempting to invite anyone and everyone to share your special day with. However, remember that you also want to enjoy your wedding and take everything in. Inviting 300+ guests means you will end up spending the entire night thanking guests and making your rounds instead of hitting the dancefloor and having fun at your reception.

To avoid getting completely overwhelmed, try to keep your guest list to 250 people or less.

HIRE A PLANNER

It’s no secret that when you plan a wedding, in general, it’s incredibly stressful. But when managing a budget of $50,000 and up, trying to coordinate your spending and all your vendor meetings becomes near impossible to do. So, if you have the room in your budget, we highly recommend hiring a professional wedding planner to help.

Plus, a planner will be on hand to help you coordinate the day of your wedding to ensure everything comes together perfectly and goes off without a hitch. This takes the stress off you and your bridal party. Allowing you to focus on the most important thing – getting married!

LIMIT THE SIZE OF YOUR BRIDAL PARTY

When it comes to choosing your bridal party, you want those closest to you standing with you at the end of the aisle. So, narrowing your bridesmaid selection down to just a few select people can feel impossible, as you don’t want to leave anyone out.

However, also remember that for the next year or more of wedding planning, you will be spending countless hours with this group and have to coordinate all communications and other important wedding events to make sure they line up with everyone’s schedule. This can become extremely difficult with so many hands-on deck.

Plus, when you have up to 10 or more bridesmaids, conflict and clashing of personalities become inevitable, oftentimes resulting in unwanted drama.

So, to avoid the added stress of having a large bridal party, try to keep the size of your bridal party to around six people or less.

In the event that anyone who was left out has their feelings hurt, explain to them your situation. You can always find other ways to include them in your wedding.

ESTABLISH EARLY ON WHO IS PAYING FOR WHAT

When planning a big-budget wedding, there’s a good chance you are not paying for everything yourself. Most couples in this position often have help from family members who are contributing financially to their wedding.

In these types of situations, though, there can be a conflict if the family members are not happy with certain decisions. For instance, maybe they’d rather a band over a DJ or a traditional wedding dinner instead of a trendy food truck. For this reason, it’s important to sit down early on in the planning process with any parties that will be contributing financially to the wedding and establish who is in charge of paying for what. This way, the family members will know exactly where their money is going and can offer up feedback when appropriate.

THINGS THAT ARE WORTH THE SPLURGE

THE DRESS OF YOUR DREAMS

You’re already planning the wedding of your dreams, so make sure you have the perfect dress to go with it. When spending so much money on various elements of your wedding, it’s important to prioritize yourself as well. It is your day, after all. So, don’t feel guilty about splurging on a gown that is truly spectacular and makes you look and feel like your most beautiful self.

Whether it’s a princess-worthy tulle and lace ballgown, or a tight fitted dress with stunning intricate beadwork (or both!), look for a gown that fits with your venue and the tone of your wedding. Also lining up with your vision for how you want to look on your wedding day.

A PHOTOBOOTH

Besides having a photographer and videographer on hand to capture your big day, consider paying a bit extra for a photo booth and some props.

Photobooths are always a big hit for guests! It allows them to show off their goofy side and create their own memories of your wedding.

VENUE

Your wedding venue is the most important element of your wedding. It will dictate the entire look, feel, and vibe of your event. In fact, your venue is where you should be allocating most of your budget. Therefore, it’s important to find an all-inclusive, well-rounded venue that matches your vision for your big day and offers:

  • Catering service
  • Service staff
  • Tables and chairs
  • Linens
  • Dishes and flatware
  • An open bar
  • Good lighting
  • Lots of parking
  • Easy to access location
  • Separate ceremony and reception site
  • On-site accommodations for bride, groom, and bridal party

FOOD

One of the things guests remember most about a wedding is the food. So it’s highly important that you make this a top priority.

No matter how great the music is, guests won’t feel like dancing if they are left feeling hungry and unsatisfied from dinner.

Work with your venue or caterers to plan out an amazing meal that will appeal to a variety of tastes and accommodate any dietary restrictions. But also take into consideration your own tastes and preferences. Because even if your guests are happy with the meal, your memories of your wedding will be clouded if you didn’t enjoy it yourself.

Also, make sure your guests are well-fed all throughout the night. This means having plenty of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour and some post-dinner snacks as well. Your guests are bound to work up an appetite after hitting the dance floor – no matter how delicious your dinner is.

FLORALS AND DÉCOR

While florals and décor can seem superficial when it comes to the big picture, they are important to have to help fulfill your vision for your wedding and create a beautiful atmosphere for guests.

Fresh flowers can get expensive, but if you have a large enough budget, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Work with a florist to find the best floral options for your wedding that are in season and can be incorporated into your ceremony with a beautiful arch and aisle decorations.

Also ask your florist to help you design some beautiful centrepieces and table decorations.

ENTERTAINMENT

When it comes to pulling off a great wedding reception, the key word to remember is fun.

Whether it’s through dancing and live music, cocktail hour games, or fireworks at the end of the evening, it’s important to keep your guests entertained throughout the night. Nobody wants their wedding to be remembered as a boring night where people went home early.

When you plan a wedding, try not to stress about the little things. Focus on the big picture: throwing an amazing bash that both you and your guests will never forget.

Because with a healthy budget, an amazing planner by your side, everything is bound to fall together perfectly. Resulting in the wedding of your dreams and amazing memories.

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Wedding Planning

The 15 most important questions to ask your wedding venue before your book

Brittany Navin Photography
Calabogie Peaks Resort – Photo taken by Brittany Navin Photography

THINGS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN CHOOSING A WEDDING VENUE

After saying yes to the proposal, choosing your bridal party, and coming up with the guest list comes the most important part of the wedding planning process – finding a venue.

Finding your venue is a crucial component of wedding planning as it will dictate nearly every element of your wedding, from décor to food, and even your dress. But finding the perfect venue is no easy feat, as there are so many factors to take into consideration.

To help you narrow down your search for the perfect venue, we’ll tell you all the questions you should be asking wedding venues before signing a contract.

WHEN TO START LOOKING AT VENUES AND SCHEDULE A TOUR

The general rule of thumb is to book your wedding venue at least a year to nine months before your wedding date. However, you may need to start your search even earlier to secure a popular venue if your wedding is taking place during peak season (May to October).

Just start reaching out to venues you are interested in, and see which ones have availability for your date. From there, you can begin scheduling tours where you will have the opportunity to ask lots of questions.

QUESTIONS TO ASK A WEDDING VENUE BEFORE BOOKING

WHAT IS INCLUDED AND EXCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGES?

This one is a biggie. Before booking a venue, you’ll need to know exactly what you are paying for. Does the venue use their own in-house caterers, bartenders, and serving staff? Or do you have to hire your own outside catering? If catering is in-house, what is the menu like? Is it customizable? Are you limited to select few options?

Plus, will you have access to both a ceremony and reception site? What about furniture and table linens? Will the venue be supplying those as well? Ensure everything included in your wedding package is written in black and white.

DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS FOR WEDDINGS DURING THE OFFSEASON?

As previously mentioned, the peak season for weddings takes place between May and October of any given year, making wedding venues and other vendors in high demand during these months. If you are flexible with your date and don’t have your heart set on a particular month, ask wedding venues if they’d be willing to offer you a discount. Most wedding venues do offer discounted rates during the offseason as it is harder for them to book weddings during this time. This could give you the opportunity to book the venue of your dreams that you may not have been able to afford otherwise.

HOW MANY GUESTS CAN YOU ACCOMMODATE?

This is another crucial question you absolutely need to ask. Let’s say you have a 150-person guest list, and you find out after booking that your venue can only accommodate 100 people. This would mean you would have to either scale back your guest list considerably or risk forfeiting your deposit.

DO YOU HAVE SEPARATE CEREMONY, COCKTAIL HOUR, AND RECEPTION SITES?

Planning an outdoor ceremony but want an indoor reception? Make sure your venue can accommodate this. Or, if your ceremony and reception are being held in the same spot, who is in charge of disassembling everything from the ceremony and transforming it into a reception space? Plus, where will your guests mingle during cocktail hour? These are very important logistics you’ll need to know in advance.

ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS? (I.E. DECORATING, OUTSIDE CATERING, ETC.)

Some venues have restrictions on what can or cannot be done. For example, many venues that have their own in-house catering with set menus and do not allow you to use your own catering company. There may also be restrictions on bringing your own alcohol, décor, furniture, dishware, or linens.

IS THERE A CAKE CUTTING FEE?

Many venues will charge an additional fee to cut and service your wedding cake to guests. This can get pricy, as the average cake cutting fee tends to be around $1 to $2 per slice.

WHAT DO YOU REQUIRE FOR A DEPOSIT?

Nearly all wedding venues will require a monetary deposit to secure the venue for your wedding date. However, this number varies from venue to venue and can range anywhere between 20% and 50%.  Therefore, knowing exactly how much money your venue requires for a deposit right off the bat is important so you can budget accordingly.

FOR OUTDOOR WEDDINGS, DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP OPTION IN CASE IT RAINS?

Weather is unpredictable, and any bride planning an outdoor wedding knows how stressful it is during the days leading up to your wedding as you obsessively check weather reports and hope and pray that mother nature will rule in your favour. For this reason, it’s important to inquire with your venue about whether or not they have a tent or back-up indoor ceremony site available to you in case you have bad weather on the day of your wedding.

DO YOU PROVIDE SEATING FOR THE CEREMONY?

While this may seem like a given, many wedding venues only offer the space for rent and require you to provide all your own furniture and décor. So, if you are looking for an all-inclusive wedding venue, make sure that they are providing the seating, and that they have enough to accommodate all your guests.

DO YOU OFFER OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS? IF SO, FOR HOW MANY PEOPLE?

While not the most important thing to look for in a venue, having on-site overnight accommodations is incredibly convenient, and is often worth paying a little bit more for.

Not only does this provide you with a place to get ready with your bridal party on-site, but also means you and your groom and potentially your immediate family and bridal party will have a place to crash at the end of the night without worrying about how they’ll get home or to their hotel.

HOW MANY BATHROOMS ARE THERE?

While not the question most brides think to ask, this one is pretty important. The last thing you want is your guests spending half the reception in line waiting to use the bathroom. So, make sure that your venue has enough facilities to accommodate everyone, especially if you have a large guest list.

HOW MANY PARKING SPOTS ARE AVAILABLE?

This is another question that often gets overlooked but is incredibly important to ask. Similar to the bathrooms question, it’s important to know whether or not your venue has enough parking for your entire guest list so that your guests aren’t scrambling to make it to the ceremony on time because they couldn’t find a parking spot.

HOW MANY HOURS CAN THE VENUE BE RENTED FOR?

Don’t just assume that you’ll be able to have your venue booked from the early hours of the morning until the middle of the night. Many venues (especially ones with outdoor reception sites) have an 11:00 curfew, which means you may need to wrap up your reception earlier than expected.

So, be sure to ask when the reception has to end, and how early you can show up at the venue on the day of the wedding.

WILL WE BE THE ONLY EVENT THAT DAY?

While this may seem like a strange concept, many wedding venues have multiple ceremony and reception sites and will often book more than one wedding for a particular day. So, if the thought of this makes you feel uncomfortable, make sure that you confirm whether or not you will have free reign of the entire venue during your wedding.

WHEN IS FULL PAYMENT DUE?

Typically, most wedding vendors will require full payment either on the day of, day before, or day after the wedding. But with so much going on in the days leading up to and after your wedding, it’s important to confirm when full payment is due to avoid any confusion or added stress.

While these are some of the most important questions to ask, there are likely more questions that will arise during the planning process. From the cost of the venue to menu options and added costs, it’s important to be thorough when interviewing venues so you know exactly what you are getting on. Added stress and confusion is the last thing you need on one of the most special days of your life!

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Wedding Planning

Wedding Terminology: The Ultimate Guide

DEFINING COMMON WEDDING TERMINOLOGY AND PHRASES

Wedding planning can be very stressful, but even more so when previously unheard of words and phrases are thrown at you left, right, and centre. From shopping for your wedding dress to booking a venue, there is a lot of wedding terminology you are bound to hear when planning your big day.

To help avoid any confusion along the way, we’ll break down and define some of the most common wedding terminology you may not know that will help you better navigate the wedding planning process.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO

Let’s start with one of our favourites… photography and video! These are some of the wedding terms you might want to be aware of when you start your planning journey:

FIRST LOOK

While traditionally, the groom/future spouse doesn’t get a glimpse of the bride until they’re walking down the aisle, nowadays, it’s incredibly common for the soon-to-be wedded couple to meet up before the I dos in what’s known as a “First Look.” This moment is typically captured by your photographer, who will likely ask you ahead of time whether or not you plan on doing a first look.

GOLDEN HOUR

Golden hour is the time of day just after the sun starts to set when the sun is low in the sky. This is most photographers’ favourite time to shoot because the couple will be basked in a gorgeous, golden glow.

HIGHLIGHT FILM

A highlight film is a video produced and edited together by your videographer that captures all the most important moments of your wedding in around 7 to 12 minutes.

DETAIL SHOTS

As you’re getting ready for your wedding, your photographer may ask for your bouquet, rings, accessories, etc. for what’s called detail shots. Detail shots are close-up photos of your bridal accessories.

SECOND SHOOTER

When booking a photographer, they may ask if you’d like to pay a bit extra for a second shooter. Some photographers may even have a second shooter for all the weddings they photograph.

A second shooter is a photographer that helps the main photographer capture special moments from different angles and snap shots that they may not be able to get on their own. This helps ensure more variety when it comes to your photos.

CEREMONY

Okay. Now, for the ceremony. Below are some of the wedding terminology things you’ll need to know:

PROCESSIONAL AND RECESSIONAL

We all know the term “walking down the aisle,” but you may not know that there is actually a formal name for this. When walking down the aisle to get married along with your bridal party, this is known as the “processional.” Many couples like to customize their processional music and choose different songs for different parts (i.e. one song for the bridesmaids, another for the bride, etc.)

The Recessional takes place after you’ve said ‘I do’ and signed all the paperwork, and you, your spouse, and bridal party walk back down the aisle towards your reception, or to take photos.

The Recessional is also typically set to music and is usually a more fun and upbeat tune.

USHER

Not all weddings have this, but for weddings with large guest counts, an usher can be incredibly helpful.

An usher is typically a close friend or family member that is responsible for directing guests to their proper seats during the ceremony. This is a great way to include a friend or family member in the ceremony that wasn’t chosen to be a part of the bridal party.

OFFICIANT

Your officiant is the person presiding over the ceremony who can legally declare you and your spouse as officially married. The officiant will handle all legal aspects of the wedding, including obtaining and filing the proper paperwork, and will conduct a reading and direct the couple in saying their vows.

While traditionally, this has been a religious role conducted by a priest or minister, there are many non-denominational officiants available as well. In fact, in certain provinces, like Quebec, you can assign a friend or family member to act as your officiant. Unfortunately, though, this option is not available in Ontario.

WITNESSES

Your witnesses are two people that act as the official legal witnesses to the marriage. They also sign the marriage licence during the ceremony! This role is typically performed by members of your bridal party.

RECEPTION

There are quite a few terms you will also come across when planning a reception. Here is a list of just a few:

HEAD TABLE

This is the table where the newly married couple sits during their reception. Often, this table is decorated and set up more elaborately than the guest tables and is the focal point of the reception.

Typically, the happy couple sits at the head table alone. But, you can also include members of your bridal party as well.

COCKTAIL HOUR

After the ceremony, the happy couple will be off take photos with their family and bridal party. Guests will be ushered to the cocktail hour where they will have the chance to mingle, snack on hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy cocktails before the formal, sit down dinner and reception. You can even provide your guests with entertainment with lawn games, music, etc. Cocktail hour typically lasts for around 1 hour.

FAVOURS

Wedding favours are small gifts/trinkets given to your guests as a thank you for coming to your wedding. Favours are often monogrammed with the couple’s initials or wedding hashtag and can include:

  • Snacks and desserts
  • Lip balms
  • Candies
  • Key chains
  • Bottle openers
  • Soaps

WEDDING DRESSES

When you’re looking for your dream dress, here is some common wedding terminology you might hear during your visits:

SAMPLE GOWNS

With most bridal shops, the gowns that are in the shop for brides to try on are known as “sample dresses”. In most cases, brides do not purchase and bring home a sample gown, as they are only there to try on. After deciding which sample gown you love the most, the bridal shop will order that gown from the designer, and it will be made in your size just for you.

OFF THE RACK

Some bridal shops allow brides to purchase sample gowns “off the rack”, and take home with them. This practice is common with sample sales or bridal outlet shops.

BUSTLE

One of the most common wedding dress alterations is adding a bustle to your gown. A bustle is the hook, tie, or buttons added to your gown. This enables you to secure a long train to the back the dress after the ceremony.

PLANNING

Lastly, here are some common planning terms and phrases you will find:

DAY OF COORDINATOR

A day of coordinator is similar to a wedding planner. However, they only come in on the day of to help ensure the wedding runs smoothly, rather than planning and organizing the event itself. A coordinator handles the logistical side of things on your wedding day. They help keep guests and the chain of events organized before, during and after the ceremony and reception.

SAVE THE DATE

A Save the Date is like a pre-invitation. It lets your guests know ahead of time what your wedding date is so they can make arrangements. This Is particularly helpful for guests travelling from out of town.

The general rule of thumb is to send out Save the Dates at least 6 months before the wedding (8-12 months for destination weddings).

REHEARSAL DINNER

Your rehearsal dinner takes place after your wedding rehearsal, typically the night before the wedding. This allows the soon-to-be married couple, their bridal party, and immediate family to get together one last time for a formal or informal celebration before the nuptials. Often, this is hosted at a restaurant by the couple’s parents.

WEDDING WEBSITE

While not mandatory, many couples choose to create a website dedicated to their upcoming wedding. This is a great way to provide your guests with as much info about your wedding as possible leading up to the big day.

If you don’t have any experience with web design, there are many services that will create and host your website for you for free, such as The Knot. On your website, you can include your date, directions to your venue, local hotel accommodations, names of your bridal party, engagement photos, and even an RSVP function.

As you can see, there is so much involved in the wedding planning process that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We hope this guide to wedding terminology was helpful and makes things a bit easier. After all, planning the most special day of your life should be exciting and fun rather than stressful and confusing.

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Wedding Planning

How to plan a picture-perfect elopement or micro-wedding

THE BENEFITS OF A SMALL, INTIMATE WEDDING

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many couples to cancel their spring and summer 2020 weddings, many couples have forged ahead with small, intimate affairs with just the officiant, close family, and their bridal party present.

After all, pandemic or not, what’s most important is that you get to marry the love of your life and have the rest of your lives to throw a lavish party.

But even after this pandemic passes, the typical way of life will be forever changed. Making small, intimate weddings lot more appealing and popular than they once were.

With that being said, we’ll outline some of the benefits of a smaller wedding and provide ideas for planning a beautiful and special celebration with a lower guest count.

WHAT IS A MICRO-WEDDING VERSUS AN ELOPEMENT?

Two words you’ve probably been hearing a lot of lately are micro-weddings and elopements. Now, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between the two? While similar, micro weddings and elopements differ quite a bit from one another.

ELOPEMENTS

While elopements are most often associated with courthouse ceremonies or spur of the moment Las Vegas weddings officiated by an Elvis impersonator, the true definition of an elopement is where a couple gets married (sometimes in secret) without any guests present. The only people typically present at an elopement are the couple, their officiant, and the witnesses.

In recent years, destination elopements have become incredibly popular, with many couples whisking themselves off to stunning international destinations like Italy, Ireland, or the Caribbean for a combined wedding and honeymoon.

MICRO-WEDDING

A micro-wedding is, as the name suggests, a smaller-scale wedding. Unlike elopements, micro-weddings do have guests invited to a ceremony and reception, but the guest count is typically limited to 20 or less. The ceremony and reception are often more casual and relaxed as well.

THE BENEFITS OF A SMALLER WEDDING + GUEST LIST

COST

Perhaps the most attractive part of a smaller wedding is the reduced cost. It’s no secret that weddings can get quite expensive, especially when you have a large guest list. And while there’s nothing wrong with going all out on a lavish party to celebrate one of life’s most momentous occasions, it’s always nice to save a bit of money as well, if you can.

LESS STRESS

While wedding planning can get very stressful, with a smaller wedding, there are fewer moving pieces you need to take into consideration, making it a more enjoyable experience.

MORE ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH GUESTS

Another downside to having a large guest list is that it can be hard to find the time during your reception to interact with everyone. With a smaller guest count, you can spend more time enjoying your reception and truly enjoying the company of your closest friends and family.

MORE FREEDOM AND CREATIVITY

While it’s only natural to want everyone you know and love to be at your wedding, sometimes, we let certain individuals’ opinions sway us in a different direction rather than following our hearts.

With fewer guests, you don’t have to worry as much about the opinions of others and can focus on creating your dream wedding and get creative when it comes to venue, décor, your dress, and even food.

IDEAS FOR A PICTURE-PERFECT ELOPEMENT/MICRO-WEDDING

MAKE IT A DESTINATION WEDDING

Whether you go with a micro-wedding or elopement, a small guest list helps free up your budget, making a destination more affordable.

Not only will you get married in paradise, but you get your wedding and honeymoon all in one. How perfect is that?

CREATE A BEAUTIFUL SETTING

Who said elopements and micro-weddings have to be boring? When planning a smaller wedding, you have the freedom (and budget) to get creative with your décor and create a truly magical backdrop for your vows and reception. From lots and lots of flowers to antique furniture, creating the perfect backdrop will ensure that you don’t feel you’re missing out on anything by scaling back your wedding.

LOOK AT ALTERNATIVE VENUES

Without a large guest list to limit your choices when it comes to selecting a wedding venue, a micro-wedding or elopement presents a unique opportunity to get creative and think more non-traditional when picking the perfect spot to get married.

From treehouses to national parks, historic landmarks, or even on top of a mountain, the list goes on.

PLAN YOUR GUEST LIST CAREFULLY

It’s easy to get carried away when determining your guest list. So, it’s important that you be strict with your invites to avoid going over your guest count. Keep it to immediate family and close friends only.

SPLURGE WHERE IT MATTERS

With your budget significantly slashed, you’ll have lots of wiggle room for spending on the big picture items. Make sure that you spend it where it counts – venue, food, dress, and photographer.

BE CREATIVE WITH PHOTOS

Hire an amazing photographer who can help capture the beauty of your venue along with the love you and your future spouse have for one another.

If you’re doing an elopement, scope out cool locations for photos, such as:

  • Parks and gardens
  • Unique landmarks
  • On or in front of a cliff or mountain
  • Outdoor art installations
  • A bridge with a stunning backdrop
  • A forest
  • Historic buildings
  • Buildings with unique architecture
  • Graffiti walls
  • Waterfalls
  • Sand dunes

HAVE ONE LONG TABLE INSTEAD OF SEVERAL SMALL ONES

With fewer guests, there’s no need to keep everyone separated (unless we’re still in a pandemic). For post-COVID-19 micro-weddings, try having one long table to seat everyone. This allows everyone to be seated together and helps your wedding feel more cozy and intimate.

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF AND MAKE IT EXACTLY HOW YOU WANT

As with any sized wedding, it’s important to stay true to your vision. Plan your wedding exactly how you want, rather than giving in to the expectations of others.

If you are planning a romantic elopement or intimate micro-wedding, remember to have fun with the planning process and get creative. Because, at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that you’re getting married. Neither a small guest count nor a pandemic can change that.

Categories
Advice Wedding Planning

10 tips for an out of the ordinary courthouse wedding

LOW-KEY FABULOUS WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BIG DAY STAND OUT

Wedding season hasn’t quite been the same since 2020 reared its ugly head. Whether your lavish wedding was cancelled due to the pandemic or you’re more inclined to organize a low-key affair for the big day, courthouse weddings are seeing a resurgence.

The rigmarole of wedding planning can be overwhelming at best, so there’s no surprise that the simplicity of courthouse weddings are attractive to couples who want to get through the “I dos” and just be married already. After all, isn’t the marriage the most exciting part of it all anyway?

With that said, as quick and simple as courthouse weddings can be, they can sometimes leave you feeling a sense of “was that it?” There are floral arches, breathtaking views, regal aisles, or themed décor (unless an old wooden-clad office lined with ancient books and an inch of dust is your thing).

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make the event a little more special. There are a number of things you and your partner can do to transform your quaint ceremony into something spectacular.

BENEFITS OF A COURTHOUSE WEDDING

LESS EXPENSIVE (LIKE, WAYYYY LESS)

According to a 2017 survey, the average cost of a Canadian wedding is over 42K, with almost 88 per cent accounting for the ceremony, reception, and other expenses like flowers, entertainment, photography, and stationary.

A courthouse wedding in Canada costs less than $200.

LESS TIME PLANNING

When you cut out major time-consuming elements of wedding planning like searching for the location, booking the venue, searching for backup locations, picking themes, music, seating, programs for the ceremony – you get the picture – you’ll have less stress since the amount of time spent planning a courthouse wedding pales in comparison to a traditional wedding.

We found a study published in 2019 by The Independent, and they determined that the average time it takes to plan a modern wedding is around 528 hours.

LESS STRESS AND PRESSURE

Naturally, when you spend less time and money planning an event, you feel less stress and pressure from deadlines, timelines, choices, and accommodating your needs and the needs of everyone invited.

MORE INTIMATE

You can’t cram in 150 guests into your courthouse wedding, so there’s no need to be shy when working on your invitation list and slashing through names that don’t make the cut. That’s one of the joys of having a courthouse wedding, you can surround yourself with only the people you love most.

WAYS TO MAKE YOUR COURTHOUSE WEDDING MORE SPECIAL

Getting married is special enough as it is, but if you wanted to zhuzh up your courthouse ceremony, check out these ten tips!

GO ALL OUT ON YOUR DRESS

Just because you’re getting married in a courthouse or at city hall doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the incredible joy of wearing a gorgeous wedding gown perfectly designed for your style and personality.

At the end of the day, the moment is about you and your partner and the love you share, so splurge on what will make you look and feel your absolute best on your last day of singlehood. There’s truly nothing better than getting ready and slipping into your dream gown, taking a twirl, and knowing you’re the most beautiful person in the world at that moment.

Read More: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR DRESS SHOPPING EXPERIENCE DURING A PANDEMIC

PAMPER YOURSELF

Following the theme of doing whatever makes you happy on your wedding day, take a moment for some self-care. Whether that’s getting a facial, a mani-pedi, a 90 min massage, doing hot yoga, meditating, dirt biking, getting your favourite breakfast a greasy spoon, or going on a shopping spree, spend the time before your ceremony to check in with yourself and indulge.

HOST A RECEPTION

You’ve said, “I do,” you’ve signed the papers, and now you’re married. It’s time to celebrate! There’s no need to hold back on your reception. In fact, you have so many great options to commemorate this joyous event.

Throw a bash, host a party, rent a cottage, have an intimate dinner party, make it a little more formal with a venue, or even throw a “surprise, we’re married” style party.

INVITE YOUR FAVOURITES ONLY

Do you remember when MySpace was relevant, and you could pick your top ten besties to have on your wall? Think of your courthouse wedding like that.

There may be some hurt feelings, but the day is about you and your partner, no one else has a vote in how you choose to get married.

Invite your core group – the people who truly know you and want to support your exciting new endeavour. But be sure to call ahead to find out how many people you’re allowed to bring with you. Some courthouses have limits, especially due to the pandemic.

SPLURGE ON FLOWERS

Bring colour, vibrance, and life to the courthouse with a flourishing bouquet adorned with your favourite blooms. Flowers are seasonal and, particularly when they’re from specialty shops, can run a bit of a bill, so call ahead, find out what their selection is and place your order for your wedding day.

BOOK A STYLISH RIDE TO WHISK YOU AWAY

There’s always the tried-and-true limo or UberX, but did you know you can rent luxury vehicles and old-fashioned specialty cars for the day? You can arrive at your ceremony in style and step out of a car even James Bond would envy.

INCORPORATE SOME OF YOUR OWN TRADITIONS

Every family has its own set of traditions, whether they relate to the holidays, seasons, or weddings – there’s usually something you do that is unique to you and your loved ones.

Well, you can also apply these traditions to a courthouse wedding!

Take a moment to think about what is important to you and what rituals, observances, or other unique elements you want to factor into your ceremony.

WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS

You are two very unique people with shared life experiences, so it’s fitting to write your own vows to express your special bond.

HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER

Just like a traditional wedding, you’ll need someone around you to capture the magic.

And we don’t mean your bestie hosting an Instagram live stream of your nuptials.

Make it a priority to hire a photographer and videographer – oftentimes, they can do both – so you can cherish the day for years to come.

They will fall under your wedding party, so make sure you factor them into your final count for the ceremony.

SELECT A GORGEOUS PHOTO BACKDROP

Whether you’re posing in the park, gathering in the garden, or doing a photo shoot at home, your backdrop will make a world of difference.

Scout for the ideal location for your wedding photos or purchase/rent backdrops to host your own photo shoot. If you’ve hired a photographer, they usually have backdrops, so be sure to ask them ahead of time.

Psst – Don’t forget to have a backup location in case the weather doesn’t go in your favour!

A courthouse wedding may be completely customizable, but these ten tips can elevate your experience and allow you to represent who you are, your unique personalities, and the incredible love you have for each other.

In the end, it’s not about the things or the location. The most important part is that you’re with the love of your life, and you’re about to embark on a magical journey together. Make your memories, share love and laughter, and enjoy the ride!

Categories
Wedding Planning

Wedding Invitations: formatting, etiquette, and everything in between

Now that you know whom you want to attend your wedding, you need to send out the invitations.

To determine the proper etiquette for wedding invitations I once again consulted Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette book.

Today, there are many options for invitations. Print them at a stationery store, order them online, purchase kits to print them yourself or make them yourself completely.

Mail invitations 6-8 weeks before the wedding. You should ensure that your invitations are made, assembled, and mailed with this timeframe in mind.

The invitation is the introduction of your wedding to your guest; so the invitations should match the style and formality of your wedding.

If you are having a theme wedding the invitation is a great way to establish the theme with your guests.

INVITATIONS “DOS AND DON’TS”:

  • Do
    • Decide where you want responses and gifts to be sent. This should be used as the return address on the invitations.
    • Check the make sure the right amount of postage. The safest thing to do is bring an assembled invitation to the post office, have it weighed and the correct postage determined.
    • Triple check to ensure that all names and locations are spelled correctly before ordering/printing invitations.
    • Include your guest’s invited guest’s name whenever possible.
    • Handwrite guests’ addresses to have add a personal touch
  • Don’t
    • Include gift or registry information with the invitations. It is considered distasteful. Family and attendants can share this information with the guests.
    • Write “no gifts” or “no children” on the invitation.
    • Put the dress code on ceremony invitation. Write the dress-code on the lower-right-hand corner of the reception invitation/card, if included.
    • Do not include alcohol information. This should not be a deciding factor on whether a guest will attend or not. So don’t include on the invitation.

TRADITIONAL, FORMAL INVITATIONS USE THIRD-PERSON WORDING AND INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING FEATURES:

  • Centered wording on the invitation. Except for the RSVP, which is flush left.
  • List the hosts of the wedding first.
  • No punctuation. Except for the abbreviations of Mr., Mrs., Ms., Jr., or Sr., or phrases requiring separation on the same lines, such as the date.
  • No abbreviations other than for Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
  • Always write out full names and titles.
  • The phrase “request the honour of your presence” is the correct phase when the ceremony is taking place in a house of worship. For all other locations, the phrase “request the pleasure of your company” is the correct phrase.
  • List the bride without her title or last name unless it is different from the hosts’.
  • Use the groom’s full name and title.
  • Spell out the numbers in the date and time (ex. the eleventh of June, three o’clock).
  • Including the year on the invitation is optional. If included, write it out in lower case letters (ex. two thousand seventeen)
  • Half hours are written as half after, not half-past or blank thirty
  • Spell out one-word numbers in addresses (ex. Thirty Main Street). Otherwise use numerals (ex. 256 Main Street).
  • Examples of wording are provided at the end of the blog

RSVPS

An RSVP is added to the invitation to the reception. Or to the invitation for both the ceremony and reception. An RSVP is not added to the invitation to just the ceremony.

Place the RSVP on the bottom left, not centered.  Write them as RSVPR.S.V.P.R.s.v.p., or The favour of a replay is requested.

RESPONSE/REPLY CARDS

A response card should have a place for guests to write their name, and indicate whether they will or will not attend.  It is also a good idea to include the date by which you’d like to receive the response. For invitations sent 8 weeks before the wedding, a response by 4 weeks before the wedding is the norm, while invitations send 6 weeks before the wedding have a normal response date of 3 weeks.

ENVELOPES

Traditional, formal invitations use two envelopes. The outer envelope is addressed using the guest’s full name and address.  The inner envelope is left unsealed and simply has the guest’s name abbreviated to the title and last name.

The inner envelope is completely optional today. Couples who choose it do so because they like the tradition. Or they want to be very specific about who is being invited. This is particularly useful when indicating that an invited guest may bring a plus-one. Or it can indicate if a couple’s children are/aren’t invited since you can include/exclude the children’s name on the inner envelope.

ASSEMBLING THE PACKAGE

  1. Insert the invitation printed side up and folded edge first if it’s not a flat card.
  2. Slip the reply card under the flap of its pre-addressed and stamped envelope so the card is face-up and the addressed side of the envelope is down.
  3. Stack all enclosures (reception or ceremony card, directions or other information, and the reply card with envelope) face-up, in size order, with the largest piece on the bottom.

IF YOU’RE USING AN INNER ENVELOPE:

  1. Place the stack of enclosures, face-up, on top of the invitation. The package is then slid into the inner envelope, which remains unsealed and without the flap tucked-in.
  2. Turn the inner envelope address side up, and place it in the outer envelope so the name of the invitee is visible when the invitation is opened.

IF YOU’RE NOT USING AN INNER ENVELOPE:

  1. Place the stack of enclosures, face-up, on top of the invitation. Slide the entire stack, face-up, into the envelope.
How Many to Order:
  • Married couples or couples living together at the same address receive one invitation.
  • Single guests each receive their own invitation
  • Families with children receive a single invitation. However, teenagers should receive their own invitation. This rule generally replies to teens thirteen and older, but you can set your own limit. Anyone over eighteen should receive his/her own invitation.
  • Plus-ones are included with the invitation to the guest you know
  • If you plan in using a B list (see our blog on “Making Your Guest List”), be sure to have enough invites for these guests as well.
  • Order some extra invitations for keepsakes for yourself, family, and friends. Also order extra envelops in case of mistakes when addressing them.

For more detailed information about wedding invitations check out Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette by Anna and Lizzie Post.

And as always, the above information is provided as a means to aid you in planning your own wedding invitations; these “rules” are simply based on history and tradition. Ultimately, the wedding invitations should be a reflection of the couple and the wedding they want.

Examples

Hosts: Bride’s parents (formal)

Doctor and Mrs. John Peter Doe
Request the honour of your presence
At the marriage of their daughter
Jane Mary
to
Mr. James Mark Smith, Jr.
Saturday, the tenth of June
At half after three o’clock
St. James Anglican Church
Carleton Place, Ontario
and afterward at the reception
Stonefields
1985 Ninth Line

RSVP

Hosts: Bride’s parents (less formal)

John and Jessica Doe
Invite you to share our joy at the marriage of
our daughter
Jane Mary
to
James Smith, Jr.
etc.

Hosts: Bride’s single/widowed parent

Mr. [Mrs.] John Peter Doe
Requests the honour of your presence
At the marriage of his [her] daughter
etc.

Hosts: Bride’s divorced parents

Bride’s mother (and spouse if remarried)
and
Bride’s father (and spouse if remarried)
At the marriage of their daughter
etc.

Hosts: Bride’s parent and stepparent (note the bride’s last name is used if it is different from her step-father’s)

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Green
Request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of her [his] daughter
Jane Mary (Doe)
etc.

Hosts: Bride’s parents, but including groom’s parents in invitation

Doctor and Mrs. John Doe
Request the honour of your presence
At the marriage of their daughter
Jane Mary
and
Mr. James Mark Smith, Jr.
Son of
Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, Sr.
etc.

Hosts: Groom’s parents

Mr. and Mrs. James Mark Smith, Sr.
Request the honour of your presence
At the marriage of the
Ms. Jane Mary Doe
to their son
James Mark Smith, Jr.
etc.

Hosts: Both sets of parents (note, the bride’s parents are listed first)

Doctor and Mrs. John Doe
and
Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, Sr.
Request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of
Jane Mary Doe
and
James Mark Smith, Jr.
etc.

OR

John and Jessica Doe
together with
James and Sarah Smith
Would be honoured to have you share in the joy
of the marriage of their children
Jane
and
James
etc.

The order if one, or both sets of parents are divorced:

Bride’s mother (and spouse if remarried)
Bride’s father (and spouse if remarried)
Groom’s mother (and spouse if remarried)
Groom’s father (and spouse if remarried)

Hosts: The couple

The honour of your presence is request
at the marriage of
Ms. Jane Mary Doe
to
Mr. James Mark Smith, Jr.
etc.

OR

Ms. Jane Mary Doe
and
Mr. James Mark Smith, Jr.
Request the pleasure of your company
etc.

Hosts: Both parents and couple

Together with their parents/families
Jane Doe and James Smith, Jr.
Invite you to join them as they celebrate their marriage
etc.