5 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding


A wedding is probably the singularily most expensive “party” you will ever throw in your lifetime, and it’s amazing how quickly everything adds up.

Aside from the obvious suggestions, (i.e.: cutting your guest list, having a dry wedding, etc.) here are 5 more things to consider if you are trying to save money on your wedding:

1) Host your wedding in the morning or the afternoon - Chances are when you think of “wedding”, you immediately picture a dinner and dance type of event. But in my opinion, some of the best weddings are followed by a brunch instead.  First of all, you would be saving money on a DJ. You could add a couple of extra hours onto your package with your ceremony musician in order to provide some music while you and your guests eat. Second, you will save a LOT of money on alcohol! Even if you provide Mimosas or have a Champagne toast, the total alcohol consumption will still be significantly lower than a cocktail, dinner and dance wedding.  If you decide on an afternoon wedding, you can provide finger foods and appetizers as opposed to having a meal.

2) Make your decor work “double-duty” - If you have a separate venue for your ceremony and your reception, decorating both could be costly.  Instead, choose decorations that are easy to transport and have them adorn the ceremony site and then be transferred (by a friend, or wedding planner!) to the reception site. Most of your guests will never know that they are the same decorations and it will also help to carry your theme from start to finish!

3) Let them eat something other than cake - Personally, I LOVE a good wedding cake. But, if you need to cut costs, there are plenty of fun and trendy alternatives to the traditional wedding cake. Consider cupcakes, cookies, tarts, donuts, brownies, pie or a even Rice Krispie cake! Your guests will love the novelty and more often than not, you will also save on the cake cutting fee charged by most venues. If you still want the “cake” effect, simply arrange your treats on a tiered cake stand.

4) Limit the alcohol consumption - Let’s face it, alcohol is a big part of weddings and it can be difficult to go completely without. One of the ways you can save money is to limit the hours that the bar is open. For example, you could close the bar during speeches; or, if you are serving wine with dinner, close the bar during the meal.  Another way to save money is to ask the venue to serve the wine to each table as opposed to leaving a bottle of red and white at each table. You could also request that the venue only serve domestic beer and common spirits as these are a lot cheaper than imports.

5) Consider renting a car as opposed to a Limo - Most limo companies offer a package of a certain number of consecutive hours, which could amount to almost a thousand dollars.  If a limo is not a big deal for you, you may want to consider renting a vehicle or two instead. Car rentals are charged daily, which means that if you get your timing right, you may only need to pay for 1 day’s use. However, keep in mind that most car rental companies cannot guarantee you a make/model or color of vehicle. If you let them know it is for a wedding, they will do their best to provide you with a more neutral-toned vehicle, but do not assume that it will be guaranteed.  Or, if you know someone with a vintage car or even an RV (talk about your amenities-on-wheels!), see if they would be willing to let you borrow it for your wedding.

Wedding Trends for 2012 – New York Bridal Show


Welcome to Part 2 of our post from the New York Wedding Party bridal show.

This post is all about the upcoming trends that you can expect to see in Edmonton, oh, a couple of years from now! ;) (You know how slow on the pick-up Canadians are sometimes).

1) Unconventional Tables:

McQueen tablescape plaid table

{ Nancy Swiezy Events & Flowers }

When it comes to tables and reception decor, be on the look out for couture influences. This Alexander McQueen-esque table is a perfect example! Non-traditional elements and found objects, such as the skull candle, could replace the traditional floral centerpiece. Alternating your tables while still staying within your theme is not only cutting-edge, but a great conversation piece and a memorable design element to your wedding.

 2) Healthier Options

 veggie buffet vegetable bar

{ Marcia Selden Catering }

Candy Buffets and Dessert Tables (or Sweet Tables) are still really popular at weddings and events. But if you’re looking for a different take on a current trend (or you just don’t have a sweet tooth), check out this posh Veggie Buffet. That’s right! Those are fabulous containers filled with an assortment of veggies and dips. Don’t worry about filling all the containers with edible delights, use sugars, beans, whole and un-peeled vegetables and legumes as filler in the bottom of deeper containers and add your sliced veggies on top.

 3) Fashionable Functionality

twist bridesmaid dress

{ Twobirds Bridesmaids }

If you ever tried to squeeze all your girlfriends into the same style of dress, then you understand that it doesn’t always work. Women come in all different sizes and shapes and the bridesmaid dress that you choose may not work on everyone. Introducing the convertible bridesmaid dress! This dress can be worn 15 different ways AND they’re available in Canada as well!

3) The Return of the Cake

 couture designer vogue cake

{ Fashion Design cake by Heather Barranco Dreamcakes }

Cupcakes (as much as it pains me to admit it), have had a good run. The Wedding Cake is back on top, but it’s anything but traditional! The new trend in cakes is two-fold: fashionable couture or themed. Look for cakes with design elements similar to a dress from your favourite designer: rosettes, rouching, texture, bling, etc. kimono wedding cake

{ Mikado inspired cake by Heather Barranco Dreamcakes }

Also look for artistic elements such as “watercoloring” or ombre color techniques.

modern orange yellow wedding cake

 { Mosaic cake by Ron Ben-Israel }

As for themed cakes, these aren’t just for groom’s cakes anymore. Check out these Alice in Wonderland and Lovebird themed wedding cakes:

wonderland wedding cake

{ Alice in Wonderland cake by Heather Barranco Dreamcakes }

lovebird wedding cake

{ Love Birds in Birdcage cake by Heather Barranco Dreamcakes }

By far, the most eye-catching cakes that I have ever seen belonged to Creme Delicious. These Henna-inspired cakes and mini cakes are just so colorful and vibrant that I was instantly drawn to them!

colorful indian wedding cake edmonton wedding planner

I was also fortunate enough to win one of these beauties!

indian wedding cake sari henna

Be sure to stay tuned for Part 3 of our New York Bridal Show series…the dresses!


Bridal Show Tips + Tricks


Edmonton has 3 main bridal shows every year: The Edmonton Bridal Fair, Bridal Fantasy and Bridal Expo. Seeing as there are 2 bridal shows this month, I have been getting a lot of questions about what to expect at a bridal show and (more importantly), how the experts handle them.

Bridal Fair Wedding Show Booths

{ epicevents.ca }

So, I decided to do a little blog post to help you out!

  • Bring Comfortable Shoes

I can’t help but snicker at the girls I see at the bridal shows in their 4 inch, thigh-high boots, walking around with this look of sheer pain on their faces. (Sorry!) A bridal show is not a runway – unless you’re one of the models actually hired for the fashion show. There is a lot of walking and an awful lot of standing! Your best bet is to wear comfortable shoes with little to no heel – something that you know you could stand in for 2 hours and not be too bothered by.

  • Leave Your Entourage At Home

Bridal shows can be crazy and very crowded. There is no need to bring your entire wedding party or all of your bridesmaids with you. The main purpose of a bridal show is to acquaint yourself with vendors and their services, and to get design ideas for your wedding. If you have 6 people in your entourage, that’s a LOT of opinions! Plus it is very easy to lose track of people. I would recommend bringing no more than 2 people along with you.  If your fiancé is not that interested in the planning process, then leave them at home. (Most bridal shows do have a sort of “Man Den”, but really, I equate it to the ball room at Ikea –you know what I’m talking about. Believe me, your man would much rather be at home than waiting 2 hours for you in a fenced off area with other men!)

  • Bring Water and Snacks

As I mentioned before, bridal shows can be very crowded places with thousands of people in the hall at any given time. This means that line ups for the concession stands are long and prices for food and beverage items are high. There is also not a lot of variety. Where possible, bring a bottle of water for each person and bring some granola bars or other snack items to last you through the day.

  • Come Prepared to do Business

Vendors pay to exhibit at bridal shows in order to get new business. And fortunately for you, you are there to HIRE vendors! :) Make sure to bring a notebook and pen with you as well as your calendar so that you can make appointments with vendors that you are interested in. If you are unable to speak to the vendor directly, grab their business card and contact them at a later date.  Try to only take business cards from vendors that you are interested in. (i.e.: If you are looking for a florist, don’t grab the card of every florist at the show). By the time you get home, you will have forgotten which vendor made that bouquet you loved and you will have more business cards to try to rifle through to find the florist you wanted. Also, bring along a bag to keep all your pamphlets and freebies in!

  • Brace Yourself for Contact

Lots of exhibitors will have contests and prizes that you may want to enter. In order to save yourself time and some serious hand-cramping, make some printed labels and bring them along with you. Information you should include on these labels are: your name, phone number, email address, full mailing address and wedding date. You may also want to sign up for a free email account just for this reason and forward emails from this new account to a current email account. The reason for this is that the bridal show will release a list of attendees to each vendor (remember that info you filled out when you bought your ticket…yup! That’s what it’s for!), and these vendors will send you emails from now until a year and a half AFTER your wedding (in some cases). Having a separate email address just helps you control the barrage of emails a bit better.

  • Take Pictures

If you see something that you like, take a photo of it in order to help you remember…but ask the vendor for their permission first! If they allow you to take a photo, try to include the vendors name somewhere in the photo as well, or position their business card in the shot. That way, you will remember which vendor created what and who to book later!  If the vendor doesn’t allow you to take photos, check out their Facebook page (if they have one). They most likely will have photos of their booth uploaded there for you to look at.

  • Expect to be Bothered

As you walk through the event centre, you will be hollered at, called out, etc. by people trying to hand you pamphlets or get you to view their booth. This is especially true of the bride (believe me, vendors LOOK for that ring on your finger!) Just be prepared for this and don’t take it personally – this is the way it’s done. If you have already booked a vendor for that service, politely say, “I already have my DJ. Thank you”. And leave it at that.

  • The Fashion Show

Either you will be interested in the fashion show, or you won’t be. If you are interested, snag a seat approx. 15 minutes before the show starts. If you aren’t interested, take advantage of this precious time to speak to vendors that you weren’t able to speak to before. The fashion show draws a lot of attention and the exhibitor booths are pretty near empty at this time, which is perfect for the bride who wants to have more one-on-one time with the exhibitors!

Dress Codes Deciphered


With the Holiday Party Season fast approaching, I thought it would be a good time to discuss Dress Codes.  (As if deciding what to wear wasn’t hard enough!) :)

Dress Codes are largely dependent on the area of the world that you live in, however some basic principles are the same straight across the board – such us “Casual” does NOT mean that you can wear jeans! (More on that later…)

In Canada, we typically have 5 dress codes, although you may only ever encounter 3 of them.  Here’s a list of your standard dress codes and what you should and should not be wearing for each:

White Tie – This is the most formal dress code, and one that most people will never encounter (think State functions and Royal events). Men should wear a long, black coat with tails or a morning jacket, a white waistcoat, and a white tie. Women should wear long gowns, and have professional hair and make-up. Opera-length (to the elbow) gloves are optional. If you happen to own a tiara, this would be the event when you could wear it again, as opulent jewelry is not only accepted, but encouraged.

Audrey Hepburn Princess Regal{ source: flickr }

Liz Hurley Tiara - edmonton event planner

{source: vogue uk }

Black Tie (Formal) – Black Tie has 2 different forms and it is another dress code that you may not encounter very often. However, despite the fact that it is rare, it should be strictly adhered to when it is listed. For the formal version, men should be dressed in a black tuxedo with a classic black bow tie. (A black suit is NOT acceptable). Women should be in long gowns or fancy cocktail dresses with their hair and make-up professionally done.

 Tuxedo Dress Code FormalBlack Tie Dress Code Ladies

Black Tie (Optional) – This form of Black Tie really only concerns the men. This means that the men may wear either a black suit or a black tuxedo, as both are acceptable.

Dress Code Formal Black Suit

Semi-Formal / Cocktail  – This is one of the few dress codes where there is a difference in attire depending on whether the event itself is being held in the daytime or in the evening. For an evening event, men should dress in a dark suit with tie; while women should wear a cocktail dress.

Mens Cocktail Dress Code

Semiformal Dress CodeFor a daytime event, men should be in a suit without a tie, or a tie and waistcoat without a jacket; and women should wear a dress or suit. Traditionally, women should avoid wearing black during a daytime event, as black dresses and suits were more reserved for evening events. However, more and more women have started to wear dark colors to daytime events.

Semiformal Suit Dress CodeLadies Semi-Formal Dress Code

However, it is widely agreed that if the ceremony is taking place in the daytime, and the reception is in the evening (and if time allows), women should be changing outfits for the evening reception.

Business Casual – There is the odd time that you may see this on a wedding invitation, but more than likely you will encounter this for meetings, conferences, etc. Business Casual is typically a bit more formal than what you may wear to the office. For men, this means you could wear khakis or slacks, a button-down shirt, and a sport coat. NO jeans, sneakers or ties. For women, stick to skirts and slacks, blouses and dresses. Shoes can be with or without a heel, however please refrain from “dressy” sandals, flip-flops and jeans.

Mens Business Casual Suit

Womens Business Casual Dress Code Some Additional Notes on Dressing Appropriately for an Event:

  • If the wedding ceremony is being held in a church, ladies please make sure that your attire is appropriate – don’t show too much skin or cleavage. Be careful of strapless/spaghetti straps, see-through fabric, and short hemlines. Think about adding a shawl, cardigan or blazer while you are in the church. It’s a matter of respect for the church and its parishioners.
  • Even if a wedding invitation says “casual“, jeans and running shoes are NEVER acceptable for a wedding! Now, I know that we live in Alberta and I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this one, but a wedding is a special and important event. Therefore, you should not look like you stopped by the ceremony/reception on your way back from working on your truck! At the very least, wear khakis, loafers and a golf shirt (no corporate logos please!).
  • Things get tricky if you are going to the theatre, symphony, opera or ballet. While traditionally these were places where the acceptable dress codes were Black Tie or Semi-Formal, today you will see everything ranging from evening gowns to jeans. This is due to an economic shift over the last few decades. (Translation: These forms of entertainment, while previously reserved only for the wealthy, are now available to the masses). So as you can imagine, the dress code got watered down a bit. Personally, I think that its best to stick to Business Casual to Semi-Formal for these events, depending on whether it is a matinee or evening performance.
  • Remember: it’s all in the details! If you’re wearing a beautiful evening gown, but are carrying around your everyday, giant handbag…well, that just ruins the look, doesn’t it? Pay attention to the details – your shoes, your purse, your nails, your jewelry, etc. It may seem like nit-picking on the details, but together they help to polish your overall look.

If in doubt, never be afraid to inquire as to the dress code of an event.

As for me, I always prefer being over-dressed to being under-dressed. ;)

{ source for all photos, unless otherwise credited: j.crew }

Quality vs. Price – Why Hiring a Budget Wedding Planner Could Backfire


Everyone loves a bargain! And when are you more likely to look for a bargain than when you are planning on making a big purchase?  Whether it’s a car, an entertainment system or a camera, chances are that you want to do a bit of research to determine what the best model is for the best price.

This practice should be no different when you are looking for a wedding planner.

The average cost of a wedding in Canada is $25,000.  That’s a LOT of money to invest and chances are you will have to trim up on a few wedding expenses to stay within budget.  However, I am here to explain why hiring a budget wedding planner could end up costing a lot more than if you had hired a professional in the first place.

If you’re getting married (congratulations!) and are starting to research all-things-wedding, then no doubt you have already checked out websites like Kijiji looking for décor, vendors and services.  While sites like Kijiji are great for finding bargains, they’re also a free bulletin board for self-described “professionals” to get your business.

Aside from the usual red flags (no company website, a hotmail address, no business materials), you should also be looking at their pricing as an indicator as to whether or not these so-called professional planners are actually qualified to be entrusted with your special day.

For example, I am always told about “wedding planners” who charge $400-$500 (or less…yikes!)  for Wedding Day Coordination.  While this may sound like an absolute steal, let’s do the math:

For us WPIC certified planners, what’s known as a “Day Of Coordination” actually doesn’t just include your wedding day.  We are doing a bunch of work behind the scenes in preparation of your wedding day.  We are contacting all of your vendors to confirm everything they contractually agreed to provide you with; and if we are not familiar with the vendor that you have booked, we may contact a reliable vendor that we know of and ask them to be on stand-by in the event that your chosen vendor fails to show up.  We are also creating your wedding day timeline and itinerary for you and coordinating your rehearsal.  In total (including being there on your wedding day), we are putting in 40 hours or more for your “Day Of” coordination.

If we only charged $400 for this service that means that we are only making $10/hr, which is slightly above Alberta’s minimum wage.  At this point, you should be asking yourself: “How is this business making money?” And that’s a great question!!

The main goal of all businesses is to make money.  So if you are hiring a wedding planner who is willing to work for minimum wage, what level of service will you be getting?  And if their business is not making money, will they even be in business by the time your wedding rolls around? 

The bottom line is: You Get What You Pay For.  Anyone can claim to be a wedding planner and take out an ad on Kijiji or start a page on Facebook.  However, it is education, past experience, professionalism and industry connections that set professional planners apart from the “weekend warriors” who are just out to make a quick buck.

Would you hire a wedding dress maker who has no formal training or experience other than “I watch a lot of Project Runway”?

When it comes to your wedding day, who would you rather have in your corner?

Professional Wedding Planner Coordinator

Things to Think About When Planning an Outdoor Wedding


For us Albertans, we have a very small window during the year to have an outdoor wedding. The vision of a beautiful white tent (or marquee), decorated to the nines is the dream of many a bride.

But what most brides do not realize is that a tented wedding is one of the most expensive and challenging events to plan.  Here are some important things to keep in mind if you are considering having an outdoor wedding:

Mother Nature is Not Always Your Friend - When planning an outdoor wedding, it is essential to have a back-up plan! Not only is it important to have an indoor location set aside in the event of rain, but other factors such as wind or pesky insects could also force you to take your wedding inside.  Even if the morning of your wedding day is rain-free, your venue may be mudslicked from the downpour days before.

Wind can also affect the temperature and comfort of your guests.  While you may not feel the cold amidst the excitment of your day, don’t forget that your guests will be sitting for 20-40 minutes during your ceremony. Wind can also affect how sound travels – you may want to consider having a microphone on hand so that your guests will be able to hear you exchange your vows.

Outdoor Wedding Canopy

{photo courtesy of ArisingImages.com}

You’re Going to Need Some Power - If you are dreaming of a tented dinner with a great dance party reception afterwards, don’t forget that you’re going to need electricty to make that happen! Depending on where you will be setting up your tent, you may be looking at renting generators for things such as: lighting, refrigeration and heating/cooling.

Make Sure Your Guests Are Comfortable - Whatever the weather, make sure that your guests are comfortable. If it’s chilly, provide lap blankets and hot drinks; if it’s warm, provide bottles of water and fans so that guests can keep cool.

Another thing to consider is – where are the washrooms? If you are setting up your tent in an area where there are no facilities nearby, you will have to provide portable washrooms for your guests. (Forget the typical “Port-A-Potty”! There are new luxury washroom units that you can rent that won’t put off your guests.)

Mojitos on Tray

{image courtesy of oncewed.com}

Bringing It All In - If you have to provide your own tent at your venue, keep in mind that you will have to rent everything! From the tables and chairs, to heating/cooling and even flooring, everything will need to be brought in. This means that you will have to budget more for rentals and delivery and set-up costs.

Do You Have a Permit For That? - Depending on what you have selected as your venue, you may need to obtain a permit from the city or parks administration office.  Don’t forget to ask questions regarding trash removal, do’s and don’ts for the site, noise restrictions and any other regulations.

Media Article – Wedding Gift Giving


Edmonton Journal - Edmonton Event Planners

Gift-Giving Can Be Tricky, says Edmonton Wedding Planner

By Chris Zdeb, The Edmonton Journal

The average Canadian bride and groom live together before marriage so they usually have all the kitchen gadgets and other housewares they need. What many really want for a wedding gift is money, but it’s uncouth to say so on the invitation.

There are ways to tell if that’s what they want, but if it is, how much should you give? And if you do decide to give a gift, how much should you spend? Do you have to buy a gift if you’re already missing work and forking over big bucks to attend a destination wedding?

With the I-Do season in full swing, we asked Edmonton certified wedding planner Christina Frizzell of Sweet Bliss Weddings about some common gift etiquette quandaries.

How do you know a couple wants money?

If they’re not registered for gifts anywhere, you can assume they’re looking for money. If you want to be sure, ask one of their parents or anyone in the bridal party.

How much should money should I give?

“If your budget allows, and you’re a generous person by nature, or if you’re very close to the couple, I would say the absolute minimum would be to cover the cost of you attending their wedding, but it’s always good to put in a little extra so the couple actually comes out with something as opposed to coming out even at the end,” Frizzell says.

An afternoon wedding or brunch, for example, costs less than a wedding with a cocktail hour, dinner and dance. The style of wedding invitation and venue will also give you a clue as to how formal or expensive a wedding is.

Frizzell would spend $100 to $150 (closer to $200 if she was buying a gift with her husband) on a close friend or relative; $100 on a casual friend or relative; and $75 to $100 on a co-worker or distant relative.

“But again, you have to use your own personal discretion on does this meet my budget? Is this something I can afford?”

Do you have to give a gift?

Unless the invitation specifically says ‘No Gifts Please,’ yes you do.

What should you buy if you have no idea what to buy?

Let the couple’s gift registry be your guide. If only big ticket items are left, consider splitting the cost with another guest or another couple.

What if you have an idea for a gift that’s not on the registry?

If you’re close to the couple and have an idea that’s out-of-the-box that you think they’d like such as a cooking class if they love to cook or a gift certificate for horseback riding, if that’s a favourite activity, they would probably appreciate it. But run it past the couple’s parents or someone in the bridal party just to be on the safe side.

If you can’t attend the wedding do you still need to buy a gift?

If a close family member is getting married, yes. If it’s a friend or acquaintance, “I don’t think you’re obligated,” Frizzell says.

If you’re already missing work and paying to attend a destination wedding, do you have to buy a gift too?

Unless the invitation says no gifts, you should buy one. But present it to the couple either before the wedding or after they return, because some gifts — an expensive bottle of port or wine — may not get through customs, or they may have to prove they didn’t buy that jewelry where they got married.

What about making a donation to a charity in the couple’s name instead of buying a gift?

It’s been done, but it’s not a big trend, as of yet.

If you’re already spending quite a bit of money for a bridal shower gift do you have to spend a lot on a wedding gift?

The shower gift and wedding gift are two separate things. The bridal shower gift is a gift for the bride, or a household item. The wedding gift is for the couple. The cost of one should not influence the cost of the other.

If someone didn’t give you a wedding gift are you obligated to buy them one?

According to wedding etiquette, a guest has up to one year to give you a wedding gift, so don’t jump the gun. “Take the high road,” Frizzell advises, and buy them a gift even if they didn’t buy you one.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kaiser, The Edmonton Journal

Check out the online article here.

**Update** This article also ran in The Montreal Gazette and in the Vancouver Sun on June 29th and 30th, 2011.