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wedding planning



Toast Events Industrial Wedding Ottawa Zibbi

There are so many things to consider when signing on that dotted line. But if you've never thrown an event before how are you supposed to know what to looks for or even understand what this contract is actually saying. To help put things into perspective I'm answering my top 6 most asked questions.



When you request a catering quote likely you'll provide a potential number of expected dinner, let's say 130 dinner guests. In your contract you may see a statement like " Minimum guaranteed dinner guests of 120." This means that your responsible in paying for that number of guests regardless of what your ultimate number is. Keep in mind that also means 120 adults and does not include children!!! Ultimately if your end up having 115 guests you're still paying for 130ppl. What I like to do is calculate what the cost difference is between 120 and 130 guests and ask if you can use that dollar amount in upgrading your meal or adding a course- that way you're not "loosing" money!



This is a health issue. Once food is out in the open and in an unregulated temperature food can spoil quicker then you expect. Most venues and caterers wont allow you to bring ANY food home. But if they add a clause like this- you're very lucky! 



This means there is not gratuity included in your current bill. If you don't consider this while your comparing notes on various quotes, in the end it can end up in thousands of extra dollars you didn't factor in. Typically %15 grat is standard- for restaurants only. For caterers you're looking at %18 and for luxury hotels it can be upwards of %20+. 



If you're trying to do your own math here is the formula you should use. Subtotal all the food and beverage. Now add your grat onto that. Subtotal again and then add your taxes. That's right! You read that right, your grat is taxed. Another sneaky way if your numbers don't add up when you get a real revised quote from a caterer.



But you might already have a wedding planner- so why should you pay for a coordination fee to a caterer? Well, it's because there's so much paperwork and time required to ensure your food & beverage team are prepared and ready to perform for your wedding. This includes the following:

  • In person appointments
  • Multiple emails throughout a 1- 2 year period
  • Meetings with culinary team to map out custom menues
  • Research for specialty requests
  • Tasting
  • Food & Beverage timeline prepration for behind the scenes
  • Organizing staffing
  • Inventory & renatls lists 
  • Food requisitions
  • Ordering food & beverage 
  • Working with your planner on the elements of the day 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because a good catering company does so much more! 



We never really know what the economic climate will be like in the next year or two. For example there could be a Beef shortage and so the price in 2019 vs. 2018 has risen. Typically you can ask your caterer to lock in a max increase of %10. On a side note- this happened in the floral world a few years ago when there was a volcano erupt in Asia. This stopped air traffic and importers were unable to bring in orchid varieties for 2 weeks. So crazy right! This is also a huge reason why you should hire a planner. So we can impart this type of information onto our clients. They type of information that just isn't out there to find for yourself! A great planner will make it their business to know the inner workings of all these things you might never in your life think to consider!


And there you have it. Some of the most sneak hidden costs that can seriously break your budget! 








0035_Joel & Justyna-0300.jpg

There are so many things you need to remember on your wedding day. And even though you might have a planner taking care of things on the flip side- there is still a whole host of things you still need to remember for yourself. 



Don't chuckle at this comment, because I have fed more than my fair share of brides granola bars. I totally get it though, I'm not a big eater either, but on your wedding day eating is the number one thing you need to do since you won't have an appetite. It's not that you'll be nervous all day and not want to eat, instead it's like your adrenaline kicks in for 24hrs and you "feel" like - "Nahhhh I'm good, i'll eat later." WRONG! If you're my client you will be getting that 10 am call asking if you've eaten. 



Don't forget to grab the sweet little things you'd like photographed on your wedding day. Your invitation suite, jewelry,veil, shoes etc. Now you might think- who cares what shoes I'm wearing..". But fast-forward 30 years when you're flipping through those photos- .... you'll want to be able to remember those details. I personally wish my parents took more then just portraits on their wedding day...I would have loved to see what her style was like back then.

Toast Events - Le Belvedere



Have your wedding planner time your golden hour- 30 mins before the sun officially sets. It's the perfect opportunity to take advantage of that warm light, sneak away from dinner and take a few moments to yourselves for some impromptu portraits. With the butterflies gone from the ceremony and the reception kicked-off without a hitch, the golden hour is where I see some of the most relaxed and beautiful photos. 

Toast Events - Le Belvedere
Toast Events - Le Belvedere



During the busy day- consciously take a moment here and there to really soak it all in. It goes so fast, so if you can slow down and really appreciate a few moments throughout the day- do it. 


And there you have it. The most important things you should remember on your wedding day. The rest as we wedding planners- is history!



REAL TOAST BRIDE Christine:                PHOTO CRED: Joel & Justyna Photography





Toast Events

Confessions of a wedding planner: Why I hired a wedding planner for my own wedding day. 

Because look at this photo...... a fraction of the team you'll have behind the scenes on your wedding day. Now ask yourself... do you really want to be the go-to person for the day?

I've been in the game for quite some time, and even though I am more than capable of planning my own wedding, I knew on the day-of I needed a team of professionals to see my vision through.  I'm a firm believer that people are best at what they do for a reason. I can humbly digress and say that even as a planner, I can't and won't work on my wedding day. And here's why. 




You think I've mastered everything when it comes to wedding planning, but on the day of, I forgot my cellphone and even my overnight bag. Let's be honest- i lost my brain on the wedding day too. #toolegit




For that day I literally lived in another dimension. A time warp that didn't care about the numbers on the clock. And to be honest, I never even checked the time to make sure I, master planner- was on schedule.




I always thought receiving lines were old fashioned. But there I found myself loving every second of The unscheduled and impromptu hugs and kisses as each guest left the church and wished me well. 




My groom disappeared and thought cocktails were more important that our bridal pictures. Hah! If it wasn't for my trusted planners I might not have reunited with my newly minted husband on the Chateau Laurier locks for some of the best pictures I hold dear to my heart today. 




At the end of the night, I simply left and forgot to check in with my planners to make sure everything was taken care of at the end of the night. Yeah, I totally did that.


And to finish everything off, my planner actually took off her shoe and said. "Look at the hole in my shoe! I literally ran around like a maniac all night, and this is the result.

So what am I saying? Don't be the bride that works her wedding day and has a hole in the bottom of her shoe instead of her planner. 


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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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