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Photo by  Lace & Luce

Photo by Lace & Luce

Do you ever look at gorgeous wedding inspiration and wonder- what does this actually cost?

Our industry is full of over the top unattainable design ideas which are outrageously costly. One of the top three questions I’m asked in my consults is:

How much is the average wedding?

That’s such a tricky question! There are so many things I could address by answering this one question. The first thing I tell brides, is that you should be thinking of your wedding as a pie. Now cut that pie in three. One part is decor, one part is food & beverage and the third part is everything else. Now, depending on where your actually priorities lay- those three pie pieces get bigger or smaller and adjust accordingly. Then I tell my clients, whatever image you’re looking at… whatever dollar figure pops into your head, times that by 3.

Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning
Toast Events Wedding Planning

BUT! There is a big BUT here. I have designed and planned absolutely stunning weddings for budgets from 20k which can look as beautiful as a wedding you might see in a magazine with a 50k decor budget only. The secret lies in years of experience and a few tricks of the trade.

In todays blog post I’m going to breakdown the cost of my last styled shoot with Lace & Luce and Lavish Decor at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Before we begin, here is a great behind the scenes clip pulled from my instagram account. This will give you a better perspective of the scale of what we created. You won’t believe what it costs!

In this shoot we set a head table for two and two “honour” reception guest tables for a total of 18 guests. It’s important to note that we also re-used the large white standing art structures for the ceremony and again behind the head table. In this design we also used minimal florals and greenery with an emphasis on candles.

So here is the breakdown:


  • 2 Art Structures @ $450

  • Gold Fan Chairs @ $12 each

  • 3 Glass tables with ornate gold guild legs @ $350 ea

  • 1 Round glass cake table with ornate guild legs @ $150

  • 5 Crystal Candelabras per reception table @ $75 ea

  • 24 Crystal Candlestick holders & candles @ $10 ea

  • Gold rimmed scalloped dinner plate & side plate $6 per setting

  • Gold cutlery set @ $3 per setting

  • Silk linen on head table $40

  • Decor installation cost $500

  • Table stationary $18 per person


  • Greenery and blooms on art structures $150 ea

  • Greenery and tables with select blooms $150 per table

  • Floral installtion cost $500

DESIGN TOTAL COST $6,243.00 (aprx)

Now you can look at this in a few ways. This design if applied to a full wedding would be $346 per person. You can do the math quite easily if you have 100 guests, granted you keep in mind some costs mentioned above are fixed and not variable by guest count. It can be costly! Crazy how something that looks so simple can be so costly. But let me change your perception for a minute because if you were a real client I would tell you to keep this design for 1/3 of your guests, and the rest of the tables to something simple and tastefull like floating candles in water with a few tossed blooms and greenery. That would reduce your decor cost by 30%. Now if you’re loving this design, but don’t have the budget I’ll tell you think about doing this design for the head table and family “honour tables” only. Leaving simple decor for the rest of the reception tables. Its’ a design principal I’ve been using for years and how with fore-thought and intention we can make your wedding absolutely stunning while being budget conscious.

I had a nice conversation on-set while setting up this styled shoot with Jenny from Lavish Decor. She’s originally from England so our chat naturally ended up being about the differences between our bridal industry vs Europe’s. And she told me something really interesting. She said- in England they keep all the lavish over-the-top decor in the centre of the room closest to the head table. That way when the photographers shoot- their images make it look like it’s a celebrity wedding. All the other tables are plain with only a few candles or a single candelabra. This eludes to what I had mentioned before about being budget conscious. i always find it fascinating what’s seen as the “norm” in other countries. I was first introduced to this when we planned a wedding in Germany. After the ceremony we arrived at the castle for champagne in the gardens followed by cake and coffee. We then moved guests into the chateau courtyard where we had more cocktails and dinner alfresco. A long procession of eating and celebrating. Oh and the DJ plays until the sun comes up…. not the 1am shut-down time we have here!

So next time you look at beautiful decor pictures on Pintrest, keep in mind that it’s probably three times more expensive than what you think- but that it can be possible if you’re open-minded.






Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events

How do you design for a client that requests an androgynous no colour wedding? It's a tricky question to say the least and it made me rethink my usual creative approach. Because our planning style is very concept driven, our first step with clients is a request to provide 25 inspirational images of how they envision their wedding day. This gives us a glimpse of what they naturally gravitate towards and provides a jumping off point for our design work to begin. Essentially we take these design details and build upon them taking it to the next level in ways they may have not considered before. 

So here is a snap shot of our brides images.


Here's what I see at first impression.

  1. Bold metallics
  2. Absence of colour
  3. Stripes
  4. Tight-knit flowers
  5. No greenery in florals
  6. Dark linens
  7. Traditional design aesthetic
  8. Layered elements
  9. Geometry & symetry
  10. All around visually heavy design
Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events

A challenge right!? How do we take this inspiration and transform it into a more luxurious and effortless look? It's actually an easy answer. Get to know your client. During our conversations together it was apparent that decor was obviously very important to the her. 

Everything needs to be over the top. Just a little extra you know?
— bride
Theatre St James photo via website

Theatre St James photo via website

Theatre St James

Number one on my list- we had to add colour and loosen up those tight-knit florals while keeping everything androgynous. So I thought to myself, what colour does she gravitate towards in her wardrobe subconsciously? Nude. Next hurtle, how do we move away from black? Answer- Midnight Aubergine. 

Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events

And so her perfect pallet emerged. Now- the challenge of making this unique palette pop with something of editorial quality.

I take great care in designing all our weddings in a style and form which could be publishable. This requires adding elements which aren't normally seen everyday. Needless to say, I try to set the bar high. For this wedding- gold dipped greenery and metallic misted ferns throughout her florals was that added element. 

Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events
Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events

To keep this wedding luxurious, we decided to put our whole floral budget into a floral canopy which will host not only the nuptials but then transforming to frame the head table during the reception. And here's the kicker- I look at it this way. What do the photographers photograph the most during the wedding? The bride & groom. And where will the b&g be for %80 of the time? - under this insanely gorgeous canopy. So in the end all their images will look ultra luxurious full of gorgeous blooms, candlelight and crystal. I know what your thinking? But what about everyone else. Well, they get nothing- jusssssstttt joking! Long estate tables with different heights of candelabras and hundreds of candles. Not one single bloom. And it's perfect. 

Montreal Wedding Theatre St. James , Toast Events

I think its needless to say that we'll be doing a before and after blog post on how we transformed the space with tons of detail pictures. So stay tuned ;) August is right around the corner!





Minimalist + Monochrome European Wedding Inspiration

In a nutshell, these three words sum up the essence of everything I try to emulate within my work. And I'm particularly proud to share our latest feature on Ruffled

This creative collab started with a quick coffee at Starbucks with no other than Laura Kelly from Laura Kelly Photography. And as we sipped our latte's on a dreary February afternoon, Laura pitched her shoot idea about olives. Yes, the little seed, which was really an olive - began to sprout new ideas of how we wanted to take our shoots to the next level and that perhaps take us out of Ottawa for a mini creative retreat in Montreal. 

So we set ourselves some specific goals. I can't speak for Laura, but I can definitely say I promised myself that I would stick true to my own personal sense of style. Minimalist, Scandinavian, European, while pulling a few period pieces in like the gorgeous scale you'll see bellow. Needless to say the details came together effortlessly with a solid creative team backing the whole project. 

So enjoy my pretties, and I promise, you will see much more minimalism inspired design from me in the future ;)



Toast Events, Laura Kelly Photography
Stor By Margot, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Toast Events, Laura Kelly Photography, Makin'it Lovely
Floralia, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Toast Events, Laura Kelly Photography
Sarah Walsh Bridal Jewelry, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Floralia, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Floralia, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Lafabere, Stor by Margot, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Stor By Margot, Lafabere, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Toast Events, Laura Kelly Photography, The Handmade Bride
Makin'it Lovely, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, L'Hexagone
Floralia, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events
Makin'it Lovely, Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, L'Hexagone
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, Floralia, Lafabere
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, Floralia, Lafabere
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, Floralia, Topknot, The Handmade Bride
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, Floralia
Toast Events, Laura Kelly, Makinit Lovely
Laura Kelly Photography, Toast Events, Floralia, Lafabere

Styling and Coordination: TOAST Events
Photography: Laura Kelly Photography 
Hair: Topknot 
Makeup: Klava Zykova 
Dress: The Handmade Bride 
Hairpiece: White Ribbon Accents
Earrings: Sarah Walsh Bridal Jewelry
Florals: Floralia 
Menswear: L'HEXAGONE
Rings: Stór by Margot 
Invitation Suite and Live Painting: LaFabère
Decor: Makin'It Lovely
Cake & Sweets: OSSO Sweet 
Videography: Up North Wedding Films
Models: Savanah and Kyle from Angie's Models 




Elise Schmitz Styling Wedding Ottawa

I've posted quite a few teasers on Instagram and a short beauty clip of our "Ethereal Romance" shoot with the oh-so fabulous Laura Kelly.

Now I'm excited to show you a bit more from behind the scenes with Joshua from Up North.




Rose Quartz & Serenity

Designing your wedding with Rose Quartz & Serenity by Victoria Denofrio

Pantone’s 2016 colours- gorgeous hues of Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue, lends a softer side to design your special day with. Whether your taste is vintage, rustic, contemporary, botanical or minimalist, these hues can and will take your breath away. 

It's imperative you pair Rose Quartz & Serenity properly or face the potential unintended consequences of your wedding looking like a baby shower. When your designing with a specific palette, be mindful to ensure the right shades are chosen for a cohesive and seamless look.  

Mood borad

"My favorite way to add color is in the details. Tasty drinks, silk hand tied ribbons, stationary and the like. Think big picture, while ensuring your details aren't overdone. Compartmentalize your design areas, then like a coloring book, choose where you feel your color should be. If your table cloth is Serenity, avoid using that same colour for your napkin and table menu. Instead use the color for your stationary typography with a serenity ribbon detail and Rose Quartz floral centerpieces."


If a fully pastel scheme just isn't your style, adding muted shades and the bold pop of a dark colour may give you that sense of adventure your looking for. Feminine, yet lends to the gentlemen; like a navy blue suite! 

For picture references & credit, see our Pinterest account for more details and image links.




Toast Events Minimalist Bride

I'm a Scandinavian minimalist at heart. The thought of clutter gives me anxiety which seems unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, I love an over packed antique shop and do enjoy other peoples organized clutter, but not in my designs. Coco Chanel once said " Once you've dressed, before leaving the house, look in the mirror and take off one thing". And on this premiss I've adopted certain personal rules which translate into my design philosophy. Quality over quantity. 

Minimalism isn't based on not having a stick of furniture in your house or living like your in an art gallery. Minimalism to me, means that all my possessions must have a purpose or some sort of significance behind them. For example, when I travel I will always buy a pair of shoes so that when I wear them I can relive those experiences. Sentimental right ?! 

So in design i'll often tell my clients to choose one "impact visual" that is meaningful to them, (which I call "the piece de resistance"), and then focus on adding a layer of complimentary details that will convey their personal style. And that's it folks! That my friends is my basic principle. 

To help you see what I'm talking about and to give you some idea's on how to incorporate this growing movement into your wedding design......i've had a little bit of fun on Pinterest. 


A minimalist mindset is all about not succumbing to every day consumerism. The "need" vs. "want". And when it boils down to weddings, it's easy for any of us to go over-board. But it's also all about feeling free, making creative choices without the fuss. Exhibit A: The wedding dress. A simple toned down gown with a striking detail will most certainly be fit for the minimalist and modernist. 

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It's always been said "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Naturally I beg to differ. I believe beauty is conveyed through the feeling of confidence, and with that comes radiance. Even though it's your wedding day, be true to yourself. Forget the acrylic nails and false eye lashes. Rather embrace your natural beauty with makeup that will enhance your features rather than sculpt your face. In a world full of Kardashian's, be a Diana. 


A great way in making your dinero's work for you, is by re-using florals from your ceremony and incorporating them into your reception. This could be taking garlands from your ceremony arbour and placing them on your kings head table or adding the aisle candles to guest reception tables. 


One might ask, why can't I......have all my bridesmaids dress in white? And to that I say, YES!!!!! DO IT!!!! Not only is it monochromatic and pleasing to the eye, it also takes the pressure away from "all eyes" on the bride. Besides, everyone knows who you are, no need to stick out like a soar thumb, especially if your shy.  If your not keen on this color scheme think Polar bear white bridesmaids dresses or change up the color of your wedding dress to a gorgeous dove grey, nude or even blush.


Because minimalism takes a required effort to "reduce ones life" to live life more simply, we can assume this takes some hands-on creativity. In a wedding this might include D.I.Y packaged handmade soaps, water color invitations with hand-calligraphy or even a modest butter cream cake home baked. 

So there you have it. A few key ways to include the minimalist look into your wedding. This blog post could have easily been minimum 8 pages longer....but I had to cut it short. After all, I'm a minimalist ;)



*Please note all pictures included in this blog post are from Pinterest and are not from any wedding or style shoot Toast has curated. We applaud each creative mind behind these gorgeous images.