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Wedding Planning Advice




Life is short and I firmly believe in investing in the best of what you love, and when you do- you better enjoy every single ounce of it because before you know it- it's over. Let me throw some math at you to help gain some perspective. 


$40,000 Budget / 12 hour wedding day =

You're spending $3,333.00 per hour.


That number is startling.

Now envision the responsibility in making sure everything you have envisioned come full circle without any issues.....  

Girl- you can't micromanage from that makeup chair and you sure as hell aren't going to leave this burden/responsibility to your mother or maid of honour (they're in the makeup chair next to you). You need a planner, and here's why.



Hiring a seasoned wedding planner is your biggest shortcut. They provide you with information that's specific to you and your wedding which you can't find on a blog, in a magazine article or even from your best friend who just got married. Although weddings have the same base strategy when it comes to planning, it's the variables in between that are hard to manage. These variables include things like specialty vendors, rentals, design details, time specific schedules etc etc. The more unique you'd like your wedding to be- the more variables are introduced. It's like juggling - except with 50 balls. If you have a hard time seeing the bigger picture now- having a wedding planner with vision can help you focus on priorities and ensure the bigger picture is planned and executed properly. 



A huge part of my job is educating my clients on why things cost what they do and how much work goes into certain tasks- because it all boils down to perceived value and priorities. The number one question you should ask yourself before you begin wedding planning is, "What is important to me and why?". If anyone tells you the first step to wedding planning is figuring out your budget and ask the rents for money- fire them or burn that article! Everyone is so focused on money, when they should be focused on value. Once you know your priorities you'll instantly see value in the money your spending and your budget will form itself. Only then do you have the power to scale back and re-evaluate said priorities. My #1 non-negotiable term when you hire my firm is: "You can't have it all, so don't spread your money thin and cheap out just to have everything". I refuse to let my clients do this. It's such a waste. #truth 



As a seasoned wedding planner I have literally seen it all and been around the block numerous time/ I could write a Chicken Soup for Crazy Wedding Stories. (please tell me you remember those books...and yes I just dated myself). Because of this- I've learn't from the past and now instill this knowledge into planning your wedding so that these issues never happen on your wedding day. It starts with quality control. It's our job to know the back end of the industry, like when companies turn-over rental inventory, what vendors are expanding too quickly and their quality is slipping and even the newbies on the block whose work is garnering serious attention. I love taking the "guess work" out of the equation for brides. I am your google- so instead of researching vendors and scouring the internet for reviews- I can give you the real 411 based on my own real-life observations and discerning eye so that you can make informed choices. For example- the chair you're looking at renting is in fair But once your wedding rolls around a year and a half later- that chivary chair will likely be on it's last legs with a flattened stained seat cushion. How do I know this? Because the chair is wooden, the paint chips easily because their stackable and not made of metal and the seat cushions are polyester, and I personally know that companies maintenance and turn-over routines. 



This my friends is just scratching the surface in regards to the things we do and know as planners which is hard to write on paper on in two paragraphs on our website when we describe a planning package . It really is my job to know everything- and I'm not boasting. It's a fact and it is also the reason you hire a planner:) 




Union Eleven 

Union Eleven 

Who is the founder/owner of Toast?
Fur baby lover, cappuccino sipper, Elise Schmitz founded Toast Events in 2007 and quickly became one of Ottawa’s most sought after event planners. Elise’s work has been internationally published, garnering her exclusive clients and opportunities to collaborate with Elle Magazine & The Huffington Post. Over the past decade Elise has redefined the wedding planning process exclusively for her clients. Her passion and commitment to her design and client process is unmatched in the industry.

How many people work at Toast?
There are six full time staff members at Toast, not including interns. 

How long have you been planning weddings?
In October 2017 it will officially be 10 years! 

How many weddings have you planned?
If you could see our faces right now, we’re blushing big time because it feels like people never believe us when we say that we stopped counting once we reached 300 weddings in 2013. But     it’s the truth!

How many clients do you book a year?
Toast exclusively accepts a maximum of 10 full plan clients per year.

If I pick great vendors, why do I need a wedding planner?
Choosing fantastic vendors is not the same as planning a fantastic wedding. It’s like cooking; having spectacular ingredients doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a delicious meal. It’s all about the execution of the ingredients by the talented chef that brings it all together. Similarly,    extraordinary weddings have vision behind them and it takes an expert wedding planner to pull all of the elements together and know how to masterfully orchestrate the day. 

How do I know I need a wedding planner?
The fact that your asking this question is a clear indication that you do! Planning a wedding can take over 500 hours, hundreds of emails, late night research and expert industry insights. A wedding planner will help guide you along every step of the journey and help keep stress at bay so you can enjoy the process from proposal to “I do.”

All wedding planners are the same, right?
No way. Consider this, you’ve probably had good hair cuts and bad hair cuts in your lifetime, because not all hair stylists are the same. Similarly, not all wedding planners are the same. 

Here at Toast this is our full-time day job. We aren’t hobbyists and we don’t plan weddings on    the side. Our couples have our complete and undivided attention, as well as the benefit of our decade of experience. We only take a select amount of clients per year to ensure that every    client feels like they are our only bride. 

What is the difference between a venue provided wedding coordinator and an actual wedding planner?
A wedding planner is responsible for the look and feel of your event. A wedding planner designs your day, attends to vendors, helps to style every detail, keeps you on budget, creates floor plans, oversees your itinerary to keep the day flowing and oversees a thousand other significant details. 

A venue provided wedding coordinator simply confirms details which only concern the venue’s best interests. 

If I hire Toast as my wedding planner, can I still be a part of the planning process?
Of course! You can be as involved as you would like to be. We strongly believe that you should only do the parts that you find fun and leave the rest for us!  Also, because no two brides are the same, Toast customizes all of our services around what you want  – not what the wedding    industry may tell you you need.

I definitely want to plan my wedding, but I need guidance along the way. Can you help me?
Absolutely! All of our clients have access to Toast’s exclusive Online Planner which is customized to each of our brides. This tool helps you keep organized every step of the way. Plus we’re here to check in with you, add a few consultation hours at key times during the planning process and to generally help out so you have the best experience possible.

What if I only need help for a couple of hours on my wedding day?
We highly recommend our Half Day Service option, which provides you with management of your wedding from 2pm until your grand entrance. This service is ideal for assisting with the busiest parts of your day and set-up.

I love your style, but I already have a planner. Will you still work with me?
Absolutely! Not all wedding planners are stylists. Toast’s styling process is fluid and transmittable as a valuable tool for your planner to use. Our process begins with an in-depth design consultation, which results in a curated design profile and a list of recommended vendors/sources for your planner to then draw from. 

Will Toast set up my decor?
Absolutely! During one of our final consultations we will ask you to compile a list of items you would like our team to set up and style on your behalf. This includes placecards, table menus, table numbers, favours, simple napkin folds, signing table, sweets table, cake table, gift table etc. We request these items during your ceremony rehearsal with the exception of larger decor items and baked goods which should be delivered to the venue directly.

How many Toast staff will be on-site on my wedding day?
There will be 2-3 Toast staff members present on your wedding day. Due to the fact that wedding days are long (and depending upon the logistics of your event) you will have overlapping staff throughout the day to ensure we are fresh and energized to pay attention to every detail of your day.

Typically Elise will be on site as soon as the venue opens to ensure vendors are arriving on schedule, rentals inventories are taken and that set up is progressing on time. 

Shortly before your ceremony Madison and another of our Principle Planners with their assistant will arrive to greet the groomsmen, the officiant, musicians, confirm cues and ensure decor is set up before the first guest arrives. 

As soon as you’re down the aisle, part of the team will head to the reception venue to ensure all the final details are completed. As the dinner progresses and finds its rhythm, our staff gradually leaves one by one, but we guarantee a Principle Planner will remain on-site until 1am to ensure rentals are returned, gifts are packaged into your vehicle and tear-down goes smoothly.

When do I get to meet the whole team who will be at my wedding?
If you are a full plan bride, you will have met and worked with Madison extensively. If you’ve hired Toast for Day Of only service, you will meet the whole team at your ceremony rehearsal     or in your final information meeting a week or two before your wedding day.

What if you’re sick on my wedding day?
Madison and Elise co-plan every wedding, so we can take that fear out of the equation completely. Also, all of our Principle Planners are highly trained with a minimum of 5 years     experience in the industry with multiple weddings under their belts. In other words, even if one     member is ill on your wedding day, the Toast team is more than capable of expertly completing     your event as originally planned.

What will you not do as a wedding planner?
There are countless things happening on your wedding day in a relatively short amount of time, so Toast is very careful to avoid any tasks that may take us away from our main objective; event management and ensuring your vision for your day comes to life. 

Items we are not able to set up include: backdrop installations, chair covers, moving of chairs from ceremony to reception site, moving large florals from the ceremony to the reception area etc. If you have questions about this, please don’t hesitate to ask us!

What happens if there is an issue on my wedding day?
Toast’s job is to anticipate problems before they happen and fix them in ways that we can’t even begin to explain. It’s what makes us leaders in what we do. We’re here to troubleshoot at a moment’s notice and to make expert judgment calls that suit your personalized day. This ability takes years of experience to hone and we can confidently say that we’ve got your back no matter what!

I’m planning my wedding for Ottawa, but I live in Australia? Are we a good fit?
Half of Toast’s clients live abroad and we offer years of experience crafting gorgeous Ottawa weddings for clients who live all around the world. We call this ‘reverse destination brides.’ If     you fall into this category, we’re prepared for Skype chats that odd hours (on our end) to     accommodate your time zone. And we have a ton of fun along the way!

Have you planned destination weddings before?
Yes and we love them. Toast has planned with clients living in Switzerland, France, China, the    Yukon, Germany, United States, California and across Canada. 

I’m planning a destination wedding. Will you travel?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We’ve worked with all sorts of destination brides from a Calgary bride who got married in Halifax, to a couple from Berlin who exchange vows in a    German castle! Although accommodation and travel fees are extra of course, our fundamental service fees remain the same. It would be a pleasure to travel for your day.

Have Toast weddings been published anywhere?
We have had articles in ELLE Magazine, Canadian Living, Wedding Bells, The Huffington Post, and The Ottawa Citizen. Toast weddings have been featured on countless blogs as well, including Style Me Pretty, Grey’s Likes, Ruffled, Wedding Chicks, Wedluxe, Perfect Palette and The Knot to name a few. We also had the pleasure of shooting the cover of Ottawa Bride for     four consecutive years.    

I’m having a casual tent wedding and I’m unsure what a planner can do for me. What things should I be considering?
Quick go to my blog…the perfect post is waiting for you!

Do the Toast planners have day jobs?
You are our day job!

Are you a wedding planner or a wedding designer?
While both of these titles operate hand in hand here at Toast, we would have to say that we are primarily designers first and foremost. Our process begins with the art of transforming spaces to reach an elevated aesthetic and is then continued with the design of a tailored planning    experience unlike any other planner. We believe that less is more and that simplicity and    exclusivity can coincide.

I want to hire you, but you’ve never planned a wedding at my chosen venue. Will this be a problem?
This is a non-issue. We’ve planned weddings in gorgeous industrial spaces that had no running water or even electricity. You shouldn’t choose a planner based on if they’ve worked at your     specific venue before or not. You should first find the planner that’s a right fit for you, who     you’ll enjoy working with. We are versatile, resourceful, imaginative and creative – we can     make your desired location work.

Are you on any preferred vendors lists?
We are exclusive/preferred planners for the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, The Westin Ottawa, Le Belvedere, and the Museum of Nature. 

How do you stay organized with brides?
Over the past 10 years we’ve streamlined our planning process on our new exclusive Online Planner. This includes checklists, appointment calendars, timelines, a digital design studio,     guest management, budgets, wedding website creation and so much more! This gives our brides the ability to check in at anytime and see where we are during the planning process. We work very closely with our clients to ensure they feel like they are our only bride, never a runner-up.

Do you work solely off your own preferred vendors list?
No way! Although we have strong relationships with specific vendors which we’ve nurtured     over the years, we are not opposed to looking for new rising stars or vendors that you have     booked prior to reserving our services.

What’s the average cost for a wedding?
This 100% depends upon the number of guests you have. On average we would say that most elegant weddings are typically $250 to $300 per person, which is around $40k for 140 people. 

I still have questions. Can I speak with someone?
Of course! Please contact us at with any additional questions you may have and a member of our team will get back to you.