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ottawa wedding planner



Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner

The first thing you need to know is that tent weddings are never inexpensive. And if it is, it's because you're doing ALL the work right up to the very last-minute. 

Planning your tent wedding can and will be stressful if you don't have a planner.  Your hopes and dreams for DIY wedding seem attainable, especially if you start planning and making things a year in advance. Wrong. Time will escape you, because planning a wedding can easily become a second job on top of your everyday life. Before you know it priorities kick in and what was important on your wedding to do list is pushed back. 

I know this all sounds so pessimistic, but it's the reality. Even my most organized brides whom we've planned with for their tent weddings - end up feeling that DIY crunch and often email us unattainable to-do-list at 1:45 am just hours before the wedding day. Which is also why we always have 4 Toast staff onsite on the wedding day. 

So here are 10 steps on how to plan your tent wedding- because I know you're brave! 

Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner
Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner
Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner
Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner
Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner



Go to Chapters and buy yourself a cute agenda JUST for wedding planning. Live by it. When you add a due date for a DIY- stick to it. Don't ever delay or postpone. You owe it to yourself to me timely. If you want to sew 150 napkins, schedule it so you sew 20 every you're breaking up the work and don't become overworked and discouraged. You should also have a binder that has every contract and invoice. Even if an invoice has been altered 4 - 5 times, have that copy infile to make sure there are no miscommunications in the days leading up to your big day.



It's important that your vendors have a good grasp of the timeline of your day so that they can judge what is feasible within your itinerary. 



Now that you have a timeline you'll need to think of a rain plan. What happens if your ceremony is outside? What do you want to do if your cocktails are outside? Where will you take your pictures if it's raining? How will you address lightning and thunderstorms? What provisions will be made for catering?



You're building your venue from scratch. Think about that for a minute. Just let that thought really resonate. You're  temporarily transforming a space where there once was zippo. The smartest thing you can do is hire an extremely reputable tent company and the best caterer in your area. You'll regret any penny-pinching. It means you'll be paying minimum 7k for your tent and around 28k for your catering for 140ppl. If you just did some major eye rolling thinking that "this girl doesn't know what she's talking about". Let me tell you that your 2k tent quote doesn't include a liner, any lighting, flooring, tables, chairs, bug screens, catering tents, added fees incase you need a water truck to fill up your tent weights, drilling if they'res rock bed underneath your grass etc etc. 



If you don't  have a planner to coordinate all your vendors and provide you with floor plans, timelines etc in the months leading up to your wedding, have all your decor and florals come from one company. Make sure they have a standing relationship with your caterer and tent company. It's important because they most likely have the logistics of set-up down to a science. If they work well together - they can communicate amongst themselves for set-up with you having to provide them a 7-page timeline on logistics. That saves you the hassle of min 50 emails, 1 panic attack and 2 sleepless nights.



Take the pressure of your parents and hire a lanscaper to grade the area you'll be having the tent at least a year prior to your wedding date. This gives the lawn time to set and seed well in advance. Unless of course, you're paying for a leveled floor. Don't assume, getting flooring means it'll be leveled. Some are just plywood they lay down and paint on the spot or come as lego pieces. There is a big difference between a 2k floor and 6k floor. Take a look at the video series bellow as I chat about the effects of flooring and table sizes from a wedding we just did.



Pay the extra fee to have your tent installed a few days in advance. And I'll tell you why it's soooooo important. Because that hand-drawn floor plan isn't actually to scale. So you actually have less room than you anticipated, and woups!, the tent that was installed is actually smaller than you expected... So you're going to have to play around with all the tables. Then move them again because you realized that tables are one thing, but when you place chairs around them.... the tables had to be moved because they were close together too tight. Remeber that cute Chapters daytimer you were supposed to get. Markdown an afternoon to tackle this task ;) 



Schedule an appointment to consult with a planner once you have all your RSVP's and final estimates. Paying $200 - $300 for a few hours of her time to look over all your details will save you three times as much in mistakes you might have made. She'll let you know if there are any red flags or things you might have altogether forgotten. And bring her EVERYTHING! even your floor plans. I'de even go as far in having her check your inventory lists



When all you rentals arrive to make sure you count and cross-reference your invoices. You only have a limited time to report missing items that can be charged to you as lost or stolen when they come to pick up again. 



Treat yourself. Like I always tell my clients, you deserve to feel like a guest at your own wedding. The time passes so quickly it's sometimes hard to live in the moment. Just remember wherever you are - be all there ;)

Toast Events Tent Wedding Ottawa Wedding Planner


So there you have it. The best shortcut advise I can give you to help you on your way. We're always here for you - if you need us ;)






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I always say it's all in the details, but there are those who decorate like a fabric bomb literally exploded in the reception room. Don't shake your head like you don't know what I'm talking about. It's almost like they have a mathematical equation that goes something like this:

Chair covers + Chair Bands + Crystal Broach + Satin linen + Sheer Lace Overlay + Satin Table Runner. And that's just the basic foundation. Then they add.... Gold Charger Plate, Bow-tie Napkin with a Crystal Napkin Ring +  Personal Table Menue + Place Card + Bonbonierre + a bedazzled mirror with a cylinder vase with glue gunned crystals........ and in that vase there are water beads and a tinny little florescent light glowing from within............ Then the ceiling swag fairy came and went to town.....

Layers upon layers of decor which will overwhelm your guest into a blur. The biggest and most costly mistake you can make is definitely within your decor budget, because it can start to look tacky reeeaaallllll fast.

My number one piece of advice, "Don't waste your money on trying to have everything while cheaping out along the way. Sacrifice, re-evaluate your priorities and shift the dollars you would have spent on mediocrity towards a larger element that will leave your guests with a lasting impression." 

I'll give you a few examples, and if your a client reading this, you might have already heard this story. Back in the day when ghost chairs were only coming out of Toronto with a  price tag of $20 per chair, I had a client who just simply had to have them, but couldn't make it work within her budget. So I said "No problem, we'll trick them!". We ordered 1/3 ghost chairs and 2/3 white flip chairs. We used the ghost chairs at square tables and the flips at round tables and strategically laid out our floor plan accordingly. A few months later I heard back from my newlyweds and they said every single guest thought that they were sitting on ghost chairs... they raved about it endlessly. Keep in mind we're talking 2010 when the thought of mixing table types weren't even a design thought in anyone's mind. - I'm actually pretty proud that I hit that before the curve :) 

That's just one example of how I design to be budget conscious with intention. In case your curious, here is where we think you should spend your money.



Linen-less tables and chairs

Personal dinner menus 

Over-sized organic bouquets

Embellished wedding dresses

Handwritten calligraphy invites





Hidden Wedding Costs

There's always a point during the planning process when you look at your budget, scratch your head and wonder how the heck you came to that big number at the bottom. And it starts with unanticipated costs.

Wedding Planner's are pros at helping navigate these extra expenses and how to avoid them if possible. One of the many perks of having a professional on-board from the get-go, is their vendor discounts which can also help offset these pesky costs. 

So what did you forget, you ask?! -Let me enlighten you while offering some tips.



One word. Costly. Depending on your dress you can guarantee the smallest adjustment will cost you anywhere from $80 to $120. Tack on another $30 to $40 for dress hoop rentals and petty coats. 

TIP: Bring your wedding shoes to your final fitting. Remember, when your walking in your dress, keep your head up while looking straight ahead. Once you look at the floor your body naturally leans forward and you will trip on your hem. This is really important to remember during your fitting!!!  I've had a bride who hemmed her dress too short because she wasn't informed by the dress maker. Hence a $120 mistake.



Sorry girls, they aren't free :(  And if it gotta ask yourself why! I most certainly wouldn't bypass a trial to save some moulah. So be prepared to pay $65 - $80 for a makeup trial and $80- $100 for hair. 

TIP: Negotiate! Don't be afraid to ask if a portion of the trial cost can be discounted on your final bill if you decide to book their services. 



It may come as a surprise to you, that having your Officiant present to facilitate  your ceremony rehearsal is an additional fee. In Ottawa we tend to see the cost being around $100 to $150. If you have a wedding planner, you really don't need your officiant present. The most important part is physically going through the motions of walking down the aisle to timed music, where and how to stand and important cues. All of this is quite manageable without your officiant.



Be careful what you order! Too often I've seen up-lighting that just didn't make an impact because the room was too big, the lights were too small or the lumens weren't bright enough. All this means you'll have to upgrade what you originally had to actually achieve the look you want.  You could be looking at double the cost. Yikes!



Not every venue provides votive candles on dinner tables. Candles make a huge difference during dinner and provides a nice warm glow later in the evening. Without them your room will look dark and sometimes uninviting. 

TIP: Ask your venue:) If they don't provide them be sure to get a tealight with a burn time of at least 6 hours. Buy extra so your wedding planner can replace them as needed!  Do NOT buy "soy" candles. They wax turns to liquid and keeps the flame super tiny and ever so faint looking. 



Some venues such as the Museum of Nature and the Chateau Montebello require insurance and special permits when using certain spaces. Depending on what's required you could be looking to upwards of $250.

TIP: It should be outlined in your contract but you should always ask. 



Gone are the days when a complimentary tasting was something you always ticked off your list as a to-do. Now days it's just not that simple. Many establishments have embraced the a once annual "group tasting". Places like the N.A.C and the Shaw Center have adopted this method with a ticket fee of aprox. $20 per person. Some banquet halls such as Orcharview Wedding & Conference Center still include a private tasting. 



They're silly. This fee only applies to establishments which play music. It doesn't mater if the radio is being played by the venue or if it's a D.J. Disc jockeys do pay additional royalty fees which does not include Socan. Either way there's no getting around this $50-$120 fee. 



These can add up like crazy! Expect to pay a delivery fee for just about everything, even your cake. On average for smaller vendors we tend to see a $20 delivery fee, for larger vendors like florists, they may include their delivery with their set-up cost- typically $150 +. For time sensitive deliveries for lounge furniture expect $40 for a 9am-12am delivery and $80 and for a "one hour window" between 5pm -6pm, $80. But it doesn't end there! LATE NIGHT PICK UP... anywhere from $150 +. Oh but wait! If you're out of town you may be looking at double. Some vendors require you pay their parking as well. I must stress though, that NOT every vendor has these fees so make sure you ask so your not unpleasantly surprised.



This is a thing. Read your contracts front and back because you could see an increase of up to %10 on your food & beverage order. It's important to discuss locking in your prices before you sign on the dotted line. This increase can be quite costly and unexpected!! 



When your doing your seating arrangements it's important to consider how many people your placing at each table. Most venues have two table sizes, 60" round which seats 8 comfortably and 72" which seats 10ppl. Different table sizes means different linen sizes. If you put a 60" round table cloth on a 72" table for 10ppl, your linen will drop to about 1ft off the ground which leaves you with table feet showing. And obviously there is a price change of about $8-$12.

TIP: Not every linen company has their linens in both sizes so be sure to pick a linen where they have both sizes available.


I love DJ'S that include projectors in their packages! It's a huge bonus and I know they'll have the appropriate necessities. But here's the reality around these pesky pieces of technology. If you have a Mac....well it's 50/50 that your laptop will communicate with the projector. I wish I could say it's as easy as going to Best Buy and getting an adapter, but that's just not a reality. I can't tell you how many times these "after market" adapters have failed me before and during slideshows. And it's not just one thing. It could be as simple as your laptop  knowing that it only has limited resources while running on batteries, thus, will disable all "unnecessary" connected hardware (i.e. your projector). It can even be a case where your laptop isn't able to "shake hands" with the projector. With all this being said sometimes we tend to forget about the "music" component. I know how hard it is time the music properly with slides. Unfortunately projectors don't come with speaker so if your screen is located too far from your DJ's equipment, you'll need to rent a P.A System which can cost an additional $150 buckaroos. 



I wouldn't call this a hidden fee anymore. Most people know about it since the wave of cupcakes, mini cakes and donut alternative hit the wedding industry by storm. Typically a cake service fee is $1.50 per person.

TIP: Some venues may try and get away for charging you for every guest in attendance. Instead ask for only 20 pieces to be dished out on your late-night table, add & bill if more cake is requested. The chances you'll have everyone wanting a piece of your cake is pretty slim. Don't shake your head at me! It's the truth. If you your mom tells you otherwise she's incorrect :) 



Not that there is a surcharge but out of season flowers will most likely be coming straight from Holland. Perfect example! Peonies in season retail at $5 - $8 a bloom whereas off season, if we can get them, they'll be small and $15 a stem. 



We all gotta eat, And let me tell you, after working 12 hours on my feet with another 6 hours to go...a vendor meal is greatly appreciated! A vendor meal doesn't need to be the same as your guest meal. Anything wholesome will suffice. 

TIP: Never seat your vendors with guests. Typically during a meal i'll be getting up and running around cue'ing speeches and fixing behind the scenes problems. This can be very disruptive to your dinner guests if we're sitting at the same table! 



Ahhh yes the secrete behind "Why is wine so expensive compared to the LCBO?". Well here's your answer. Venue's also purchase their wine from LCBO and pay the same price as you and I. They also pay a gallonage fee.  Then of course they would like to make a little bit of profit and voila! Your $14 LCBO wine is now $30. Some venues order directly from wine reps which is an entirely different scenario. The alternative is bringing in your own wine and paying a corkage fee. This can be $10 - $15 per 750ml bottle. If you try and sneak by with 1L bottles then you could be looking at $20-$25 a bottle. 



If you know me, any of my brides can tell you I'm always calling the M.O.H in the am to make sure the bride is eating! It's a standard call I always make first thing. You need good snacks too though right!?! So it may cost you a bit more to get the yummy healthy stuff the bide will be able to stomach. 



I'll be writing a whole blog post about this in the coming weeks so stay tuned! 


So that's it folks! I could go on for hours and I'm sure there are hidden fees I've forgotten to add. The lesson to be learned here is to keep informed and that no question is silly. If you've ever run into a crazy hidden fee we didn't mention feel free to post it below in the comment section. We'd love to hear them!







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I'm a people person, and it's blows me away how I always manage to  luck-out with amazing clients. If you can believe it Annaliese and John were our 296th wedding...

" We worked with Elise (of Toast Events) to coordinate our May 2015 wedding at the Museum of Nature. From the very first e-mail, Elise was prompt, professional and an absolute pleasure to work with; we knew we were in good hands!

Her advice was always en-pointe and her experience in the industry was invaluable to us as we navigated the world of wedding vendors and décor. When the big day finally rolled around, we were relaxed knowing Elise had a handle on everything, all we needed to do was show-up. The venue looked stunning, the vendors/guests/wedding party knew where they needed to be and through-out it all Elise was cool as a cucumber, keeping everyone calm.

Elise’s bubbly personality and attention to detail are a big part of what makes her so good at what she does. From noticing and removing two guests (read wedding-crashers) who didn't quite 'fit in', to having pins on hand to fix my bustle on the fly, or stopping traffic so we could get the perfect photo, if you are looking for someone who goes above and beyond to make your wedding day absolutely perfect, I would not hesitate to recommend Elise!

- John & Annaliese Cassidy [May 9th, 2015 - Museum of Nature] "




Recently I've had a bride announce she wasn't having a wedding photographer...


At first I was in total shock. But as time passed and the idea really sunk in, I thought to myself- why the heck not?!  I'm a huge advocate of stepping outside the traditional wedding formula and I must say there's something exciting and liberating about not having one.

Which begs the question; What alternatives do brides have? 

Sure you can easily create a #hashtag and even creep everyone on facebook after your wedding, but I've found the perfect alternative which I would pair with two of my favourite app's. 



It's the perfect combination of Instagram meets wedding website. 

In a nutshell this app provides your guests a platform where they can find all your wedding details and instantly upload their social media photos as they go, in one place. This way you don't have to beg uncle Joe-shmo for two weeks to upload his memory chip! You can also use the app as a private communication hub to keep your bridal party up to date on your various events.

Wedding Party App.jpg

Now that you have all your images in one place, here are my two favourite app's that can be used to spruce up your images.


Photoshop in your pocket

I'm literally obsessed with this app. In two seconds flat you can remove imperfections, smooth and rejuvenate skin, reduce red-eye and dark circles, adjust lighting, add basic filters etc. 


VSCO Cam APP *$5.99

Where all the pro photogs edit and share their photo's online. I mainly use this app for it's high-end filters.