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Wedding Planning Tips




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:) 




Toast Events Real Wedding Invite by Lafabere

Toast Events Real Wedding Invite by Lafabere

Sorry but your kids aren't invited.....

In 2016 I started seeing a shift in couples requesting kidless weddings. Now in 2018, it seems like it's not even a question anymore. Quite simply- they should stay home. I know it sounds harsh. But that seems to be the way. In 2018 I'm seeing "black tie only"....

So obviously I get this question a lot. "How do I tell my guests their kids aren't invited to the wedding?".



And I feel like I've kinda mastered this one in a two step process. It all starts with the method of your message. The first way I suggest, is to subconsciously hint in the RSVP by adding a line that says " We have __#__ seats reserved for you".

If you don't think your guests will get the hint- add "adult only reception" in small letters at the bottom of your main reception invitation.



Likely after you've used the first two initiatives- there will be no need for any additional conversation. HOWEVER! If the "bold" decide to +1 their kid on your rsvp, you have but no choice to address the issue. 

If this guest is close to you, a personal call is in order. Explain that by having an adult only reception, what your really saying is that you want everyone to have a great evening laughing and dancing while having a few extra drinks without having to leave early because of their kids. What you want to communicate is that your wedding is the perfect excuse to take the night off and truly enjoy it. It's really not about you- it's about them. See how I did that ;) ;) 

If the guest isn't close to you, likely it's an invite by your parents- hence they should be the ones to call on your behalf and preach your message. 


I've never had any issues with the two-pronged attack ;) 

I would say that most guests no longer expect to bring their kids for the whole or even part of the wedding. So Don't be shy- what used to be a faux-pas is now the norm. 

x Elise 



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Toast Events Ottawa Office

I feel like an oldie in the industry. Gone are the days when I was the youngest person to do everything. Starting in the biz at the age of 23 back in 2007, wedding planners were just starting to become a thing and the job title of an event planner never existed. Needless to say, I’ve seen and dealt with a lot – and hey, I’ve made mistakes too. But learn from my lessons ladies as the advice I’m about to give is unapologetic and may step on some industry toes. But you deserve to know the truth and I like transparency and honesty. 

Let me start by saying the industry is competitive- wedding vendors and planners pop up one year and are gone the next. Why you ask? Because the glamour aspect only lives for so long and they don’t realize how much work’s involved. Quite simply, they burn out. It’s a tricky business and the last thing you need, is to fall into their pit of over promise and under deliver- or worse, never show up.

So let me shed a little bit of insight on what you need to know about your planner before you sign on that dotted line


Planner vs Planner

A wedding coordinator provided by your venue is not the same thing as a wedding planner. There are 3 different types of planners out there. Venue event coordinators, wedding planners and the “weekend planner”. Please know that a venue coordinator is absolutely NOT the same things as wedding planner. Now, I’ve written a nice long blog post about this so feel free to click this link for more insight. In a nut shell a venue coordinator only takes care of the venues details for it to function properly from a food & beverage standpoint. A wedding planner on the other hand manages all aspects of your wedding from inception to execution. The event coordinator from your venue is definitely not interested is creating your day of timeline, securing your vendors and making sure they abide by their contractual agreements. Then we have the “weekend planner”. A term I’ve dubbed for young girls who like to plan weddings as a hobby. I’m going to say a little prayer for you right now if you’ve already hired one, because as they might be organized, decorate and look pretty but on the day of, if anything were to go wrong- they wouldn’t have the experience or the insight to make a judgement call on your behalf. 


Experience Trumps Credentials

It really does. Like I mentioned before, some seasoned professionals debuted when there were not educational programs available- thus they are self-taught. Be leery of planners with credentials from online institutes and weekend courses. There is absolutely NOWAY you can learn to plan a wedding and call yourself a planner after only taking a weekend course. So please, ask your prospective planner her background and don’t be scared to ask them about their credentials. 


She’s Interviewing You

I good planner is interviewed- but a great planner is actually interviewing you. I, as a planner also want to make sure the prospective client is a right fit for my company and hence do right by her. Her expectations need to be on par with my own as value and quality will not be sacrificed on my watch. You’ll never catch me cutting corners just to save a buck. 


Her Stats

How many weddings does she really do? It’s a double edged sword because in one respect you want to know that your planner has a healthy client roaster because that means she’s good at what she does and clients are seeking her out right?!?!… WRONG. That’s not always the case. A high client roster can also mean that you’ll essentially be the runner up to someone else wedding. That means waiting on her emails and details slipping through the cracks. What you need to do is find out why she takes on so many clients and for what reasons. Now I know you’re asking yourself, “So what’s Elise’s magic number?”. And to that I say 16 with a core staff of 5 girls, give or take an intern. 


Her support system

Mucho importante. Is she a solo gal or does she have a dedicated team? When I first started out in the industry it’s actually hard for to believe I did it all on my own. Legit by myself. Like what was I thinking?!?! Well I can simply say, I didn’t know any better. Now days I refuse to step onsite without my planner protégé and a junior planner. Because let’s get real, I could use 6 of me during certain times throughout the day when there’s a lot going on in a short period of time. So know that when you sit down after your grand entrance for dinner- we will be there to take your drink order.



Whose Got Her Back

Is she highly recommended by her peers? Do it. Drop her name while your shopping around for vendors and see what those fellow industry players say. Is she on the preferred planner list of key wedding venues and vendors? You should want to know about the relationships she’s built over the years. If she’s made the coveted preferred vendor list of some of the biggest players, then you know she’s earned it based on her integrity and hard work.



AKA the “weekender” week·end·er
1.    a person who spends time in a particular place only on weekends.

If you only need help the day of, this might be a good option for you. But not if you’re wedding is logistically challenging with a heavy vendor list. The moonlighters may not be able to provide enough support leading up to your wedding day. Reffer to tip #1 ;)
For the record, I ain’t now noun ;)



Good marketing and a great website can be misleading. If you’re going to do any homework, now is the time. If you’re lucky this will be the only step you’ll really need for vetting a vendor. Once you have a reputable planner on your team, she’ll do the rest of the heavy lifting. 


The Price Is Right

She charges a premium for a reason. I know you’ve heard it before from your girlfriends “The best money I spent was on my planner” and it couldn’t be more true! Trust me when I say, I don’t want these words to come out of your mouth- “If I could go back- I’de have a planner”. It kills me when I hear this, because I know #TheStruggleWasReal. So real that I just had to hashtag that. Ask yourself “what am I paying for when I hire a planner?”. Pure and simple “peace of mind” and a chance to feel like a guest at your own wedding.


One Trick Pony

My last words of wisdom. Remember how I told you I’ve made my mistakes too. Well here’s a confession paired with my opinion on planners that provide “added services” such as florals, decoration packages etc. I, once upon a time provided clients with floral design. A great money maker, but man oh man did it burn me out. Not only that but it increased my stress level by %110 percent. Not only was I liable and in charge of such an integral design element, I also had all the planning duties as well. No bueno. And any other planner out there doing this, I say stop! You’re overloading yourself and you’re going to drop the ball. To all brides out there, don’t ask this of your planner. 

So there you have it. My unadulterated insight. 

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Toast Events Bride & Groom Chateau Laurier

The biggest decision and the largest amount of your budget will be spent on your venue choice. There are so many options, but which is best for you and what should you consider in choosing your reception venue? Perhaps I can shed some light in helping you determine your perfect fit.


Let's face it, outdoor weddings are by far the most romantic, with gorgeous landscapes, glowing sunsets, bonfires and fresh air. Outdoor weddings are among my most favourites, however these settings host a set of it's own challenges and budget constraints. Having a big white tent and a blank canvas can easily throw your budget right out the window. 


Unpredictable Weather

I hate to say it, and some brides tend to be in a bit of denial when approaching the subject, but weather can make of break your wedding. I've heard horror stories of guests whom have attended rainy outdoor weddings that were wet, hot and humid. The three worst elements to endure in a silk gown. Always have a backup plan ready. 

Tents are Costly

Sure the price tag might says $1,200 but that rarely includes chairs ($8-$15 per), tables ($12-$15 per), cutlery & stemware ($5-$10 a setting), linens, ($12-$25 per) staging ($100-$250), dance floor ($300- $600), draping and electricity ($800-$1200). Add that all up and your tent doubles, sometimes triples in cost. All of these items are rarely charged in other site fees.

Temperature Control

If your looking for heat you'll be left with unsightly propane heaters which you routinely see on restaurant patios. If you do decide to go this route you will absolutely need to make sure the tent is well ventilated so fumes may escape your "enclosed" area. If it's the heat that's bothering you, the last things you should do is open all the tent walls. This encourages any slight breeze to knock over your gorgeous tall centrepieces into your guests laps. I've personally had one knock a guest on the head. Not a good situation! You can however have the option of installing ceiling fans. I've even had standing fans that spray a very light mist located just outside the tent so that guests may refresh themselves without ruining their dress or makeup application. Having paper fans and lots of water or cozy pashmina's handy is also key in keeping your guests as comfortable as possible.  


Great food and exceptional staff. Everything you need right at your fingertips. Prep suites, ceremony, reception and accommodations all in one place. Bonus, no transportation costs which can save you upwards of $1,500. Because hotels typically host a variety of functions rentals costs are trimmed down to esthetic only. No need to bring in chairs, tables, cutlery etc etc. Hotels are truly an all-in-one experience. You can also arrange a post wedding brunch the next morning with your hotel guests, continuing your celebration. 


Lack of Flexibility

I always find this a challenge to maneuver. But a good wedding planner can encourage options and possibly work those loop holes you might not have thought of. Some hotels also have proffered vendors which you must work with. Your hotel may also be unionized which can slow down vendor set-ups. Tip: Never order any audio visual last minute. It's ghastly. And always check any possible looming strike mandates which could effect your special day.

Hidden Costs

It's not uncommon for hotels to sometimes double their pricing on Food & Beverage from one year to the next. What you choose today in your consultation may either not be available or the market price of your prime rib just might double. Other fees you might not consider, parking ($12-$25 per), vallet ($20-$25 per), cake cutting fees ($1 to $3 p.p), coat check ($2-$3 p.p), overtime ($100-$250 pr/hr).


Sentimental of course. I think we all dream about having our weddings in our own backyard while getting ready in your childhood home and just steps from where your ceremony will take place. Set-up can be done they day before without rushing those last minute DIY details. 


Rental Costs Go Up

Just like a tent wedding your starting from scratch. The terrain in your backyard may also not be conducive to tent requirements, parking can become a nightmare and noise control in the evening can put a damper on your festivities. 

House Rules

Keeping guests outside and not in your home isin't as easy as simply locking the doors. Some aunt will always complain to use the in-house washroom or request to be in air-conditioning. Prepare yourself to be constantly kicking guests out. 


You'll need one person dedicated to just running around grabbing last minute things you forgot such as garbage cans and trips to buy ice to replenish your bar. You'll also be left with the mess at the end of the night. Although you may have the next day to clean up, leaving certain items outside may leave you with damaged linens and mucho wasps.


The price is right, potential one-stop-shop for all your planning needs. In-house decorations and florals are some of the inclusive features in some banquet hall packages. Pretty awesome right?



We know that sometimes getting married in a hall with no windows can sometimes feel like being in a box. This could increase your decor budget to bring in ambient lighting or even hiding out of place wall art or random structural posts. It may also feel like your just another bride in a line up waiting for access to your space and quickly getting out before the next bride starts dropping off her decor items. Not to mention, you'll probably notice the horrible geometric patterned carpet.


Your bound by the rules. No fixing things to walls, no hanging items off chandeliers, enclosed flames or battery operated tea lights only. Storage is limited and power requirements for bands and Dj entertainment units can be tricky. As a planner I always need to know where the breakers are.


There is a real possibility that there will be another wedding beside yours. You may run into "the other bride" and sometimes even share common areas like foyers, washrooms and even bars. I have had instances where the adjacent wedding scheduled their grand entrance right as our wedding speeches were taking place. There is no such thing as a "sound proof room divider". Sorry ladies. All I can say, is be prepared to share and don't get upset if your not the only girl in a puffy white dress. 


Most weddings at banquet halls all tend to look the same unless you bring in big decor elements to wow your guests. This is where a wedding stylist or a planner can help you create a more unique and personalized look.


If your a foodie, a restaurant wedding might just be for you. Some restaurants are perfectly designed and decorated that minimal decor and florals are needed. Most restaurants also focus on ambiance so that expensive romantic lighting we love so much is at no extra cost. Custom menu, no problem! The sky is the limit in what you can achieve food wise. But be prepared to pay! 


Min. Food & Beverage Requirements

Yes, it's a thing. Some restaurants require a minimum amount spent on food and beverage for them to give you exclusive access on a Saturday. This could mean you could be looking at $14,000 to $20,000 in food and bar costs alone. Now, if your main priority is food and your not too fussy about adding decor and flowers aren't your thing, than this budget allotment will work for you.


Layout, Layout. Layout

Although a restaurant can be intimate and inclusive, it can also limit what you can do with your floor plan. You might have to sacrifice dinner tables on our dance floor with a possible flip. You also won't be able to move most tables as some venues boldt them to the ground or have partial "booth or bench" seating.  


Food Delays

Restaurants have a completely different dinning experience. The service is slower. For example, once guests are seated waiters will take guest orders from an A La Cart Menu (15-20mins), orders are then placed with the kitchen. 20 minutes will pass before the first course is served. You would think that salad would be easy and pre-plated. Wrong! Their kitchens are smaller as they normally prepare by staggered orders. This means they plate as they go. This gives you an extended eating experience which allows for speeches in between and lots of time for your guests to chat. Add another 45mins onto your average wedding dinner period. Because guests are sometimes used to quick service they may look at their watch, but I assure you, by the time the second course arrives they'll ease right into the longer dinner service.