Wedding Planner VS. Venue Coordinator

Often planners run into the assumption that they aren’t needed if a venue has an on-site coordinator. The truth is, a venue coordinator is a great asset, but they primarily focus on venue-oriented tasks, and often couples need more than that!

Here is a handy chart to help you understand what tasks are covered by each professional (please keep in mind each coordinator and planner have unique duties):

TaskPlannerVenue
Communicating with other vendorsx
Coordinating venue detailsxx
Budgeting helpx
Experience troubleshooting at venuex
Oversee day of eventxx
Attend vendor meetingsx
Provide vendor recommendationsxx
Help with overall theme and atmospherex
Advocate for YOU as their number 1 priorityx

Getting Married During COVID-19: How to Pare Down Your Guest List

It isn’t a reality any nearlywed wants to face, but the truth is many couples have been opting for smaller weddings due to provincial restrictions and overall safety. The good thing is- weddings are to celebrate YOU, and no amount of guests or lack thereof can change that.

If you’re here, you’re probably looking for ways to cut down that guest list, so here are my best tips:

  1. Prioritize your lists. It may seem harsh to have to categorize your loved ones, but chances are you already have a good idea of who you absolutely couldn’t have your event without. A good place to start is making a list of loved ones you Need To Attend (10 guests or less), Want to Attend (50 guests or less), and Wish Could Attend (50+ guests).
  2. From there, categorize each list further by how you know people. For example, you could have a list of work friends, school friends, immediate family, extended family, sports groups, and so on. This makes it easier to cut down your list if you need to without offending individual people, because it will make more sense to your co-workers if none of them are invited rather than if you just pick-and choose your favourites. There are exceptions to this, however, if you have very close friends in certain groups and it would make sense to others that they attend your event alone.
  3. Get rid of plus-ones. This is one of the easiest ways to pare down a guest list. Since your event will be more intimate, it is more likely that many of your loved ones will already know each other, which will curb some of that awkwardness of a guest not knowing anyone at your event.
  4. Opt for virtual invites. This can be decided from the beginning or guests can be invited to the in-person event with a caveat that if restrictions do not allow for enough guests, they will be able to view virtually. This can sound something like, “Pending local guidelines, we may have to reduce our in person guest count and offer virtual viewing instead”. This lets your loved ones be involved regardless of where they may be watching from.

Times are changing and it is leading more couples towards intimate celebrations. Remember, this isn’t permanent, and someday down the line we truly believe you can have the big wedding of your dreams. If you want to be married in the meantime, though, I hope this list helps you find a way to make it happen.

12 Month Wedding Planning Outline

Getting married? Congrats!

It can be hard to know where to begin, and if you’re feeling stuck, you’ve landed in a good place to be. This planning outline can be used as a checklist, or just as a general guideline for your planning process.

Engagements vary in length, but the planning process remains similar, so you can still apply this list to a different planning time frame!

If you see an asterisk, it just means that this step may not be necessary for all weddings. Every wedding is different, so take what you need and leave the rest. Now, let’s get started!

12 Months +

  • Set a budget, think of priorities, and allocate your budget with approximate amounts in each category ( See: How to: Choose a realistic wedding budget)
  • Start writing a guest list that you will narrow later
  • Create a wedding email- it helps for everything to be in one place
  • Hire a planner *
  • Decide on a theme or atmosphere that you want for your wedding (See: Your Event Theme: Where to Begin)
  • Choose a date and book a venue (or choose your date based on the venue)
  • Book a photographer/videographer

10-12 Months

  • Pick your bridal party
  • Create a wedding website and registry
  • Narrow guest list
  • Order save the dates *
  • Start dress shopping *
  • Book hotel blocks for guests *
  • Consider wedding insurance

8-10 Months

  • Book caterer
  • Book florist
  • Collect guest addresses
  • Send save the dates *
  • Order bridal gown *

6-8 Months

  • Take engagement photos
  • Order stationery samples
  • Book officiant
  • Order bridesmaid attire
  • Book honeymoon *
  • Book entertainment (DJ, live band, entertainer, etc.)
  • Book rentals

4-6 Months

  • Order stationery
  • Create rough day of timeline (See: The Average Wedding Day Timeline)
  • Book rehearsal venue *
  • Attend cake tastings and order cake
  • Start any DIY projects *
  • Book hair & makeup artists
  • Purchase rings
  • Rent or purchase suits
  • Book guest transportation *
  • Book bride and groom transportation *
  • Book tech/AV company *
  • Begin dress alterations *

3 Months

  • Send DJ/band song lists (play/do not play)
  • Finalize menu with caterer
  • Book rental/purchase decorative items
  • Finalize florals with florist
  • Finalize selections with rental company
  • Begin premarital classes *
  • Purchase accessories
  • Order wedding favors *
  • Adjust day of timeline as necessary

2 Months

  • Send invitations
  • Create floor plan/seating chart
  • Aquire marraige licence

1 Month

  • Delegate day of tasks to willing individuals/meet with coordinator
  • Finalize day of timeline
  • Send day of timeline to vendors
  • Send photographer/videographer shot list
  • Pick up bridal gown *
  • Print programs, menus, seating cards, and other stationery *
  • Send vendor payments
  • Begin writing vows (See: How To: Write Your Own Vows)

2 Weeks

  • Call guests who have not confirmed attendance/non-attendance
  • Finalize seating chart
  • Send vendor payments
  • Give final headcount to caterer & venue
  • Break in wedding shoes
  • Pack for honeymoon *
  • Make an emergency kit

1 Week

  • Finalize vows
  • Deliver supplies to venue/decorator/coordinator
  • Pick up suit *
  • Rehearsal & rehearsal dinner
  • Have attire steamed *
  • Have nail and beauty treatments *
  • Send vendor payments
  • Pack vendor tips in envelopes
  • Prep bridal party gifts
  • Give vendors day-of emergency contact info (not yourself)

Remember to breathe and take it one step at a time, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task, feel free to send me an email and we can chat about how to make the process easier for you!

Holiday Ideas Amidst a Pandemic

I know I post a lot of wedding content over here in the blog section, but the truth is I am available to plan all kinds of events! My goal as a planner is to take the stress off of your shoulders, whatever that may look like. So, as we venture into a very different kind of holiday season, here are some ideas that may help you through.

Disclaimer: All of these are intended to be virtual or contactless event ideas. Though it may be hard not to be physically with your family this holiday season, it is most important that you keep yourself and others safe!

Without further ado, here are some ways to spend time with loved ones as the year comes to an end!

Have everyone cook (or order in!) the same meal

Have a cookie or gingerbread house decorating contest

Omit gifts- or give virtual gifts such as e-gift cards, donations to their favourite cause, etc.

If you want to give physical gifts, have the packages sent straight to the recipient’s home so there is less contact with the products inside

Watch the same movie at a set start time

Play a virtual party game- there are many platforms to do this

Have a “drive in” movie night: stream a movie onto your garage with a projector and have each family unit participate from their vehicles

Do a drive by to say hello

Wear matching PJs and hop on a video call

How To: Write Your Own Vows

Depending on the comfort levels of you and your partner, personalized vows can be a beautiful addition to your wedding ceremony. People often have an overwhelming feeling when beginning to write vows because there is so much emotion attached to them. Whether it be because you don’t know where to begin, or because you have so much to say, these tips should help you get out of your writing rut.

Start the process as soon as possible

Having as much time as you can is super helpful because it allows you to have more time to explore your feelings in writing as well as create and edit multiple drafts.

Drafts, drafts, drafts

Once you get writing, try to write down everything that comes to your mind. It doesn’t have to be cohesive at this point, but getting as many thoughts on paper as possible helps you to have more material to choose from when you create your final draft.

Take pieces from other writing

There are many sources of writing that contain perfect material for your vows, and writing your own vows doesn’t mean that you can’t throw in pieces from other places as well. You can find vow books, poetry, lyrics, or even just quotes online that resonate with you and your relationship and make perfect additions to your vows.

Make it personal, but not too personal

Be sure to share stories and moments of your relationship that reflect who you are as a couple, but be careful not to share stories or anecdotes that are too personal. You want your partner to be comfortable with what you are sharing, and you also want your guests to not feel like they are left out of an inside joke.

Include actual vows

Vows are just another way to make promises to your spouse. These promises are a big part of writing your vows, and whether you make silly or sweet promises, make sure you include some form of written vows to your partner.

Have a third party read both you and your partner’s vows

Having someone outside of the relationship read both sets of vows can be incredibly helpful in making sure that you and your partner are on the same page. Since personalized vows can be done in so many ways, it is always a good idea to make sure that one partner isn’t overly funny while the other partner is pretty serious, as an example. Having a quick conversation before either of you begin writing can also be helpful to avoid that problem.

Keep it between 2-4 minutes

Especially if you aren’t particularly comfortable with public speaking, keep in mind that your vows do not have to be lengthy. You want to say enough to capture the moment and show your partner how you feel about your relationship in it’s past, present, and future, but you want to do this in a short enough time that people don’t begin to lose interest in the story you are trying to tell.

Practice

Make sure you take the time to practice saying your vows out loud. It may feel silly, but this is a key step in making sure that you don’t stumble over your words during the wedding. If you still do, don’t worry about it! People will remember your stories more than they will remember how you spoke them.

That’s the end of the tips, so now it is time for you to get writing!

For a more personal and detailed example, here are the vows my husband and I wrote for each other:

My dear, sweet Jacob,

I love you so much. Before you, I’m not sure I loved anything more than pie (just kidding mom). But actually, before you, I didn’t believe real gentlemen even existed anymore. You are the sweetest, most gentle, and most selfless man I know. I could never have asked for someone like you, but now that I have you, I have everything I could have wanted in a husband. Somehow you always find a way to make me feel better even on my lowest days, and I hope that I can do the same for you throughout our life together. I can’t wait to have endless days with you watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, exploring thrift stores and eating more than the suggested amount of ice cream that two people should have in a lifetime. I am excited to be able to say that I will do life with you, through all of the highs and lows it will throw at us. I know that we are going to have good and bad days, but I hope in all our days, whether they be days where we love fiercely or argue frequently, that we will always demonstrate through our love for each other that we have a fervent love for God. I vow that in all our years together, I will never make you play Jenga, though I can’t promise that I won’t still ask. I promise to give you all the kisses on our good and bad days because I know that sometimes that is all you need. The last two years together we have had some of the best days of my life, and I know we will continue to share adventures and explore the world together as we change and grow closer as a couple. I am certain that my future with you will be even better than the past that we have already shared, and I can’t wait to begin this new chapter with you as your wife. I love you a coffee.

Jenna Marie,

I love you with the force of a thousand lightyears. The love I have for you is second only to the love I have for Christ my savior. You are a gift. You’re a gift I never dreamed I could want or need and everyday I will show you that you’re a gift I deserve. You make me the best person I could ever want and hope to be and I want to spend, learn and love the rest of my life with you. I pinky promise todo my best to make God the steadfast pillar of our marriage so we may lean on and hold to Him everyday. I vow to do my best to lead, support, and strengthen you through times of plenty and in times of less so. I vow to hold your hand, kiss your cheek and massage your back until I no longer can. I vow to be honest, caring, patient. To be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Our marriage will be testing, humbling, gratifying and God-glorifying and a million things we could never prepare for. But I want to be by your side and face with you every victory, failure, smile and tear. You make me so proud to be myself and to stand by you yesterday, today and every day hereafter. I love you a lottle. For forever and a week, my love. God has blessed me immeasurably more than I ever thought possible and today I can’t wait to start a new chapter with you.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Tips

It’s not something most people think about, but events, especially weddings, tend to create a huge excess of waste. Obviously, your events are special and not an everyday occurrence, so for some people, knowing that is enough to justify the extra waste. That being said, every little bit counts, so if you are looking for ways to reduce waste or have a more environmentally friendly event, here a few good places to start:

Avoid disposables where you can

  1. rent or buy dishes and cutlery
  2. rent or buy linens
  3. use fresh flowers unless you will reuse or resell

Buy preowned

  1. décor
  2. dress
  3. flowers (faux or fresh from a wedding near your date)

Choose ethically made products

  1. rings (find a Canadian or lab-made diamond)
  2. attire
  3. any gifts or products being purchased

Support local

  1. vendors (photographer, rentals, etc)
  2. choose a caterer that also sources locally
  3. find gifts and supplies locally to reduce shipping

Have a daytime wedding

  1. less lighting needed
  2. less music and overall energy use
  3. generally less formal event-requires less supplies

Save the stationery

  1. use a large menu sign instead of menu cards
  2. use a seating chart and ditch place cards
  3. use compostable or electronic invites

Ditch aspects you don’t need

  1. save-the-dates
  2. send-off supplies (sparklers, rice)
  3. favors

Use in season supplies

  1. florals
  2. catering

Opt for less

  1. guests
  2. stationery
  3. linens (don’t have tablecloths, just choose nicer tables!)

Think about gifts

  1. ask for charity donations if you don’t need anything
  2. ask for experiences
  3. ask for good quality products that won’t need to be replaced as often

Choose and reuse (ceremony to reception, wedding to home decor)

  1. decor can be transfered froom your ceremony to reception to use less
  2. choose decor that can be reused as household decor for yourself or family afterwards

Reduce travel

  1. less guests
  2. local vendors
  3. have a shuttle from ceremony to reception or have a venue that offers both
  4. have a staycation honeymoon

Boho Elopement

Part of being an event planner is working with other vendors on styled shoots to get to know them outside of real events! We had a wonderful time shooting this styled boho elopement at Cellar 52 in St. Jacobs, ON, and I can’t get over how beautiful it turned out!

Here are some of the beautiful shots we took:

Grateful for vendors that are so talented and flexible! If you are looking for vendors for your upcoming event in the Waterloo or surrounding area, check out the following!

Photographer: Honey Photography

Venue: Cellar 52

Catering: Little Mushroom Catering

Stationery: Sam Culham Creative

Bouquet: Heart and Sola Canada

Decor Rentals: Awe Event Rentals

Hair+ Makeup: BeautiMarkPro

Women’s Attire: David’s Bridal

Models: Adecia & Francois- Vogue Models and Talent

Planning Your Own Wedding: When Your Heart Is Too In It

Planning your own wedding IS possible.

I know, it is wild for me to say that as I run a planning business, but here’s the thing: I did it. I planned my own wedding, before I ventured into my event schooling, when I was as inexperienced as most people who try to plan their own event (not that that is the case for everyone planning their wedding).

So, I get it! You want your day to reflect your wishes and you are confident that you can make that happen yourself. Logistically, maybe you can (See: Should you hire a planner?). So, we’ve talked about the logistics before, but there is a whole other side to think about before you decide to plan your own wedding: Your emotions.

Even if you have the skillset to plan your own wedding, sometimes you need someone who is unbiased to help you focus and hone in on the practical, less-dreamy side of things.

In simpler terms:

You may not be the best person to plan your best day.

In my own experience, there are mistakes I made for my wedding that were not huge errors in planning, but rather errors in my own judgement because I was clouded by my vision for my “perfect day”.

I bought two wedding dresses- not because I wanted to do a dress switch, but because I didn’t think through my venue, my personality, and my comfort level before I purchased the first one.

Our wedding was freezing, and yet I went ahead with my fully outdoor ceremony with no heaters because I visually liked it better than my backup plan. I wanted to keep my reception outside, too, and we had to do a last minute switch indoors that was only made possible by SO many friends and family members that helped us literally move things around.

Those are the biggest ones, but there were mistakes here and there that also could have been avoided by having an impartial sounding board for my big decisions.

Now, I also realize that admitting these things probably doesn’t make me sound like the most competent planner. But again, we had backup plans and things set up to run perfectly in the first place, I just didn’t want to admit that my day couldn’t go how I had envisioned it and give the go ahead for the switched to be made, because my heart was too involved in the planning process to give up my vision.

At the end of the day, your wedding will be perfect for you. Mistakes and all, it will be a day that you remember going exactly how it was meant to go. My hope for you is that you will know that it is not a process meant to be done alone, whether that means you enlist someone for partial planning or full service planning.

You can see my services here, and I am always open to chatting through your plans to see if we are a good fit for each other. Your wedding should reflect YOU, my job is to make sure it does that without sacrificing any of the more practical details.

Hello lovelies! Times are getting busier, so this is a quick update to let you know that this blog will only be updated monthly (on the first Tuesday of each month), rather than the weekly posts I’ve been keeping up with! We will chat again soon, and in the meantime, feel free to look through my previous posts if you haven’t before!

How to: Choose a realistic wedding budget

Previously on this blog, we talked a little bit about tight budgets and where you can find extra wiggle room (See Budget’s tight? Here are the first things to cut from your event.). Before you can focus on where to cut costs, or even on what your main priorities are for your event, first you have to create your overall ideal budget. For some people, a range of a few thousand dollars is okay, but others want to have a specific budget that is set in stone. Either way, finding that number that works for you and your spouse can be confusing if you’ve never planned a large event before. This post isn’t going to dive into what percentage of your budget should be allocated to each area, but rather will give you an idea of how to pick a overall wedding budget amount that works for you and your spouse.

Here are the things you will want to consider:

Industry Costs

Before anything else, you will want to find out how much each vendor typically costs in your area. This will help you create a budget that will be realistic, and thus help you stay within the budget you end up creating.

Income

How much money will you make in the length of your engagement that DOESN’T go to necessities (food, housing, etc)? Are you a spender or a saver? Where can you cut costs comfortably? You’ll want to consider how much you can realistically save to put towards your budget while still living comfortably.

Other Funds

Is there anyone other than you and your partner that will be contributing to your big day? If so, you will have to have upfront conversations with them about how much and where/how they will be contributing so that you can make your budget accordingly.

Guest Count

Typically, the more people you invite to your wedding, the more costly it will be. This very occasionally is not the case, but definitely think about your guest count when creating your budget.

Inclusions/Exclusions

Some people prefer for every wedding related expense to be part of the budget, while others are okay leaving a few things out. Think about what counts in your budget, and what will just be other costs outside of it. Do rings count? Does your honeymoon count? What about alterations to your attire? These are the main things that people tend to leave out, but it is important to think about how you will pay for everything, whether it is in the budget or not.

Priorities

When you envision your day, what stands out the most? People prioritize different things, such as food or photography, and the budget you create should reflect what is most important to you.

Date

If it is important to you to have your wedding on a certain date, the costs could reflect that. Off season weddings are significantly more inexpensive that mid-season weddings, so keep in mind your date, or at least the season you would like if you don’t have a date set.

Hidden/Extra Costs

Sometimes vendors have extra costs associated with services they perform (such as a corkage fee). It is a good idea to think about these and ask your vendors about hidden costs, so you can factor them in to your budget. In addition to this, it is a good idea to factor in vendor tips, as these can add a few hundred dollars, sometimes more.

Add Contingency

Contingency is just a fancy way of saying you’ll need extra money. This extra will allow for anything unexpected to still fall in your budget, where without it you could be going over.

Once you have figured out all of these factors, you should have a pretty good idea of what you should spend on your wedding for the budget to be realistic and comfortable. I’ll leave you here with something you’ve probably heard a thousand times, but please, please, don’t go into debt for your wedding. Weddings are a beautiful and exciting time, but they are just one day at the start of many with your new spouse.