Congratulations to all the beauties out there that just got engaged! This is an exciting and special moment in your lives, make sure to take a step back and let it all soak in. To keep this time as stress free as possible, here is a list of my top 5 to-dos, before the I-dos. Follow these to-dos, and you will be well on your way to a relaxed wedding planning experience.
Budgeting can be tough, especially with so many ideas, pressures and opinions on what your wedding day should be. Any experienced wedding planner will sit down with you before jumping in head first and create a detailed budget. This will allow for your planner to refer vendors, venues and designs that are within your budget and avoid potential disappointment later on. Everyone deserves the wedding day of their dreams, but let’s make sure you don’t go broke in the process.
There are venues out there to fit any style and budget. The one tricky thing with venues is that popular and trendy ones book up far in advance. Create a list of both your top three venues and top three wedding dates. This way you have some flexibility and a backup plan if your first choice is already booked.
Hiring a planner early in the wedding planning process will take a lot of stress off your shoulders, keep the process organized and save you money in the long run. As a wedding planner, three services I offer are full wedding planning, month of wedding coordination, and consultations. Each services fits a certain client’s needs and budget. For example, full wedding planning clients can expect;
As a planner I have worked with a wide range of wedding vendors in the province and would be able to suggest venues, florists, bakeries, officiants, etc. to fit your budget and vision. When you work with an experienced planner, you can be rest assured that you are working with professional, pre-screened vendors who are reliable and affordable (never mind that some vendors often throw in little extras for a bride and groom when the booking is made through a planner they have worked with before).
There is a wedding photographer out there to meet every style and personality. Similar to wedding venues, great photographers book up far in advance. This is why hiring a photographer is one of my top five to-dos before the I-dos. Feeling stressed about how to pose and position yourself? A great photographer will make you and your fiancé feel at ease and gently guide your through the photo process.
Which best pals will you choose to have stand by your side on the wedding day? Ignore the politics and pressure, think of who you are closest and trust most. For some this is an easy decision, but for others can be difficult. If you are part of the latter group, don’t fret – not everyone has a rock solid group who are the automatic choice. Regardless of your decision, everyone in your life will be happy and supportive on your wedding day.
Congratulations again on your recent engagement. Happy planning!
Photography by Aimee De La Lande Photography
Planning a wedding while working full time can be tricky, and can lead to you forgetting to coordinate smaller details. A wedding planner will send you updates every couple of months to ensure you stay on track and answer any questions you have.
PRO TIP: As a wedding planner, upon signing a new client I give them a form to fill out in the months leading up to their wedding. This form helps to keep the client on track and ensure that even the smallest detail is not missed.
Scheduling and timing is one of the most difficult components to planning a wedding. Communication between both a wedding planner and vendors is key to successfully scheduling and completing any event.
PRO TIP: I like to meet with month-of wedding coordination clients twice before their wedding day. The first meeting is typically one month before the wedding. At this time, we review the day-of wedding timeline that I’ve created specifically for their big day. Having a day-of timeline ensures that everyone is on the same page, and your wedding day runs smoothly.
On a wedding day we arrive at the ceremony and reception venues with enough time to set-up your smaller decor. Ex. Guest book table, place cards, seating chart, ext.
PRO TIP: Hiring a wedding planner ensures that your family and friends don’t have to lift a finger on your wedding day. Let Alex and her team take care of the heavy lifting.
On a wedding day sometimes things come up unexpectedly. Say for example, if it rains a wedding planner will think ahead to find a solution to any issues or complications that arise.
You’ve been planning your wedding day for months, so make sure you enjoy every moment. A wedding planner will give you peace of mind, knowing that every vendor will arrive on time and your day will run smoothly. Family and friends will also thank you, as they will get to be fully present on your wedding day and not have to worry about checking on smaller details.
Pop that bubbly and relax! Let Alex and her team take care of the rest.
Pop the bubbly – It’s time to reminisce on the past year and tell you about my top 10 moments/happenings of 2017.
In the Fall 2017 Winnipeg Free Press, Who’s Who Wedding Magazine I had not one, but THREE features. This was a huge honor and something I’m very proud of. It was definitely my TOP moment of 2017.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MAGAZINE.
I participated in my first wedding show in March with the Big Day Wedding Expo at Assiniboia Downs. Let me tell you, wedding shows are not easy! It took a lot of time to design my booth, marketing material, and set everything up. Luckily I had my assistant Lisa there to keep me company during the show!
CLICK HERE to read a past blog post about my experience at the show.
At the start of 2017 I gave myself a goal amount of couples to help on their wedding day. I’m so happy and proud to say that I surpassed that goal by SEVEN weddings! That’s huge! I can’t wait to help my 2018 and 2019 couples with their weddings.
Lisa has been with me from the very beginning and has been a major part of our company’s growth. This year she took on her first solo wedding and became a Lead Wedding Coordinator. I’m so excited to say that she is continuing to lead weddings and assist me in 2018. I’m so thankful to work with her, she’s an absolute rockstar!
This summer I had the privilege to help a couple from Calgary plan their wedding in Clear Lake, Manitoba. Clear Lake is such a special spot. I’ve gone up there every summer for the past six years with family, but this was my first time being there for a wedding. If you or anyone you know are looking to plan a destination wedding, I highly suggest Clear Lake!
Shout out to all the planner pals I’ve met this year, you know who you are! It’s great to have alleys to grab a glass (or bottle) of wine, and catch up about life and business.
In 2017 I had the chance to work at several new wedding venues. One of my favorites I had the chance to work at was Ashgrove Acres. In September I had not one but three weddings there. It was my home on weekends. The venue is so diverse and offers many different photo-op spots for couples and their wedding parties.
As a business owner I’m always trying to push myself and grow. Courses, podcasts and books are my largest source of inspiration. Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I can send you a list of my favourite books and podcasts!
My first back-to-back weddings are happening in a couple of days on December 30 and 31. This is a HUGE milestone that I’m excited to accomplish. I will most likely spend the following 24 hours vegetating in bed watching Netflix but it will be worth it!
After getting engaged in November 2016 many of our vendors were booked within a couple of months. Spring/Summer/Fall 2017 was spent refining our design, creating a guest list, having our engagement shoot, and shooting our pre-wedding video. In July 2018 my fiance and I say our “I-do’s.”
I’m excited and ready to take on 2018! I still have several dates available for month-of wedding coordination in April, May, August and September. Give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to hear more about your upcoming wedding!
Welcome to the third and FINAL installment of real couples, real proposals! This blog post is for you men and woman out there looking for proposal inspiration,
or a good (happy) cry. This week’s installment is extra special, as I’m featuring a he said, she said of a proposal. This gives you a cool look into the thoughts going through their minds leading up to the proposal.
She Said – Anna (Bride-to-be)
“Stephen has always been a bit of an open book to me and so the summer of 2015, I knew something was “up”. It was also the summer my sister was getting married. Stephen of course was invited to the wedding and would meet my whole extended family for the first time that year (we are quite dispersed throughout the world) and both of us were feeling it a bit inadequate to just introduce him as my “boyfriend” when we had already been together for 4 years and knew we wanted to be together forever. Unbeknownst to me, when he got back from medical school in Ireland that summer, the first week back he invited my parents out for a walk in Assiniboine park to ask their permission to ask me to marry him.
Four weeks later, Stephen decided to surprise me with a dinner. I was immediately suspicious, but Stephen just said it was a dinner but refused to tell me where it would be, so I let it go and decided that it was probably just a dinner and not to get my hopes up. The other important thing was that Stephen knows I love to document special occasions, trips, and nights out, so I always take tons of pictures. He also knew that I would hate to look bad when he proposed to me, or to be dressed down. So the same night of that surprise dinner, I was going for a makeup trial for my sisters wedding (not a coincidence! Stephen made sure he was going to propose to me that night so I would look my best in the pictures!). So by the time we got to the restaurant, I was wearing a dress, heels, and had had my full makeup done.
We were seated in a relatively empty section (which I thought odd for a Thursday night) and Stephen proceeded to be quite nervous and fidgeting with his jacket (which was a weird item to have in July on a 27 degree day, now that I look back on it). Before I knew it, Stephen was telling me how much I meant to him and how he felt and all of a sudden he was on one knee with a beautiful ring in his hand and I was VERY surprised. Even though I thought I would know when it was coming, he managed to completely throw me off. The whole restaurant applauded, we were both shaking and laughing and we had champagne brought out to us right away (pre-arranged, of course). It was a bit of a traditional and perhaps not out of the box proposal, but it was a total surprise to me, even though I thought I would know when it was coming. I guess, the moral of the story is, Stephen, through his deep understanding of me found a way to make it a surprise, made sure I would look the way I wanted to on that day, included my family and bought me the most beautiful ring that suited me in particular. And we looked great in the pictures!” [Photo provided by couple]
(Photo by Gabrielle Touchette Photography)
He Said – Stephen (Groom-to-be)
“For her engagement ring Anna had wanted something different. She always looked at different ring designs. When she came across the black diamond concept she loved it (she always said she hated yellow gold and yellow diamonds). She had hinted strongly that she loved the princess cut style. Once I had a basic idea of what she was looking for, I realized that jewellers would most likely not have the ring I wanted to give Anna in stock, so I went to Vandeburg jewellers since they make custom rings. I wanted The black diamond to be show cased, so I picked a princess cut with bold lines, with a ring of white diamonds and 6 white diamonds in the band. This was the final design. I went back and forth with adding some smaller black diamonds in the ring, but as I mentioned before, they detracted from the main diamond. when I first saw the final product, the black diamond really popped so I was I knew it was perfect!
On the night I was going to propose, I couldn’t even think straight. I was shaking and nervous and couldn’t focus. A lot of guys say they already know what the answer will be then ask, but part of me was terrified for a “what if she says no” scenario. I had called ahead to make a reservation, so the restaurant knew why were coming; they put us in the corner and ensured the tables around us were empty. I can’t remember exactly what led to what, but at one point Anna had said that she was a bit disappointed, not in anything important, but something had happened. I said “I think I can make your night better” Then I got down on one knee and asked. She said yes and I almost dropped the ring putting it on he finger because I was shaking so much. I kissed her after and then we started calling all of our friends and family.
The rest is history!” [Photo provided by couple]
“Thank you so much for being a part of our wedding. The custom package you offered to us was perfect, and it was amazing to not have to worry about set-up details. Thank you for being so organized and accommodating, you were an absolute pleasure to work with!”
-Kailey and Brian
Photography by Palma Photography
I’m so excited and honored to be blogging today about Blue Nile Inc. They are one of the largest diamond distributors on the planet and traded on the NASDAQ. When I first decided to launch a blog series about engagement season, I had a gut feeling to get an interview with their company about diamonds. On a whim I emailed Amanda, their Public Relations Manager for an interview.
Blue Nile is a massive company and I wasn’t 100 % sure if I would receive an email back. I was over the moon when Amanda emailed back. This says a lot about their dedication to customer service.
What makes this company so special to me is that I have a personal connection to the brand, as my engagement ring is from their company.
(Image supplied by Blue Nile Inc.)
Here are some things Blue Nile recommends for getting the best diamond ring possible for your future fiancé:
Do Your Homework. You don’t have to be an accomplished gemologist to buy a diamond, but you must take the time to do research. The No. 1 fear diamond buyers have is – will I get ripped off? With a little research on the education sections of sites like BlueNile.com, you can quickly become knowledgeable. In fact, you’ll end up knowing more than any behind-the-counter jeweler.
Of The “Four C’s,” Don’t Sacrifice Cut. A diamond has four major characteristics – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight, known as the Four C’s. Taken together, they determine a diamond’s quality and price. All are important, but cut is the most critical because it determines a diamond’s brilliance (sparkle). Even if a diamond has perfect color and clarity, if it has a poor cut, it will appear dull. And a more sparkly diamond = a bigger-looking diamond.
Buy Shy to Save Big. Diamond prices increase disproportionally at the carat and half-carat marks, so shoppers should try to buy just shy of these levels. For example, instead of a one carat diamond, look for a .95. That will save a significant amount of money, and the slight size difference will never be noticed – especially if it has a high-quality cut.
Find the “Sweet Spot.” As a diamond’s color and clarity grade improves, its price increases. But at a certain point the human eye cannot detect the difference in grades. That makes paying for perfect color and clarity like paying someone to paint the bottom of your house. For the best value choose a near-colorless (graded G-H) instead of a colorless diamond (graded D-F), or an eye-clean VS2 clarity grade as opposed to a Flawless clarity grade diamond.
Make Sure It’s Legit. Guess what? Diamonds are not created equal. Insist that the diamond have an independent grading report from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). The quality of diamonds accompanied by these grading reports is considered guaranteed. Independent grading is important. If the grading report comes from the jeweler itself, it’s a bit like the fox guarding the hen house.
And of course, pay attention to return policies and whatever you do don’t put it in the dessert! No one wants to wear a sticky ring.
Mokada Custom Jewelry Studio is in the house today sharing their top tips and tricks to consider when shopping for an engagement ring. What makes their store in Downtown Winnipeg so unique is that you receive one-on-one care to ensure your soon-to-be fiance loves their ring. CLICK HERE to contact Mokada and start “creating tomorrow’s family heirloom today.” Take a peek below at their top tips and tricks!
More and more couples are opting to design their engagement ring together (I read some crazy stat that 80%+ of women would make changes to their wedding set had they been consulted).
But, there is the obvious argument that this detracts from the societal norm of surprising your future spouse so pay attention to images that your partner pins, saves or comments on. This will be an excellent indicator or his/her style preference!
Do your best to ascertain finger size. Nothing is worse than the separate anxiety that follows an engagement if your rock is being sized!
Perhaps a high set solitaire isn’t conducive to massage therapists, dental hygienists and stylists given their chose professions.
The Wedding Band
Although it may feel premature we always counsel our clients to consider the future wedding band. Reason being, accents and embellishments that are going to be buried underneath the wedding band mate are perhaps better suited for just that. Don’t throw your money away on a feature that won’t be showcased but rather build it into the wedding band.
We are of the opinion that hand selecting your stone (be in diamond or gem) and pairing it with a setting that you create often represents the greatest value (and most often a higher quality finished product).
Coloured bridal is growing in popularity. If opting for a beautiful gemstone please do your homework! We are unaware of the amount of abuse we subject our hands to and the hardness of a stone is critical for a ring.
Make sure to have your ring appraised and furthermore, confirm that it comes from a trained, preferably third party gemologist (not the assistance manager of a box store with no formal training/education/expertise in determining the replacement cost of an item)
You found the perfect partner, now it’s time to find the perfect ring. I know shopping for an engagement ring can be daunting, but consider these five points to make the shopping process a breeze.
Rumor has it that you should budget two months salary when purchasing an engagement ring. This amount can range significantly depending on your career. Spend what makes you feel comfortable and does not put you in significant debt.
On the International Grading Scale diamond colour can range from exceptional white (the best) to tinted in colour (the worst).
When choosing the colour you need to keep in mind the type of metal band you would like to use, and the cut of diamond. The lighter the metal you use, the more colourless the diamond should be. This will really make the diamond pop in contrast to the band. The cut of diamond also dictates the ideal colour. A round shape should have less colour than an oval, marquise or pear due to how the light refracts.
The carat (weight) of the diamond can often be confused with the size. The majority or rings mined in the world are less than a carat. Diamonds over a carat a more rare, and it’s even more rare to find a diamond over a carat with excellent clarity. There is a give/take when looking at diamonds. You have to think of what is most important to your soon-to-be fiance; quality or size? The larger the diamond, the larger chance it has imperfections.
The clarity of a diamond is judged by its amount of inclusions (imperfections). On the International Grading Scale it ranges from FL (the best) to I3 (the worst). Don’t worry guys, it’s not the end of the world if your favorite diamond has an inclusion. Unless the diamond is of poor quality, inclusions are only visible with a 10x microscope.
Want an extra sparkly diamond? The cut of your diamond will depict how sparkly it will be. The ideal cut will gather and reflect the most amount of light from the top. If a diamond is too shallow or too deep it will not reflect light back out the top, causing it to sparkle less and appear dull.
Popular cuts include; round, princess, cushion, marquise, emerald, radiant, pear, oval and asscher.
I hope this post has helped educate you on what to consider when purchasing an engagement ring. Over the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting key engagement ring tips and tricks from both local and international experts. HAPPY SHOPPING!
Welcome to the second installment of real couples, real proposals! This blog post is for you men and woman out there looking for proposal inspiration,
or a good (happy) cry. Hope you enjoy these two proposal stories!
If you would like your special proposal featured on my blog, please email me at email@example.com with a mini write up of your love story, along with a photo.
Savanna Peers (Bride-to-be)
“I was bugging Nick to get engaged for about the last six months, but I didn’t think by any chance we’d actually get engaged until about this coming spring. I was just being annoying. He always told me that he thought Christmas time engagements were so “obvious” so he didn’t like them. But I love Christmas engagements! So I really really did not have a clue.
My friend Kayla is a photographer, and we’d been saying we’d do just a couples shoot one of these days and we never got around to doing it, so a few weeks before New Years she casually said maybe we should do it New Years day because everyone’s off work. So we made that plan pretty loosey goosey, sure we’ll do it if it’s nice out and it all works, if not whatever. Little did I know, Nick and Kayla had it all set up from beginning to end and managed to make it seem completely casual. So on New Years day, we left to go meet Kayla at Assinaboine Forrest, argued all the way there about how to get there and by the time we did get there, me and Nick were basically not speaking! So we meet Kayla, and head out to take some pictures, listening to Kayla tell us how to pose “hand here, foot there, etc etc”. All the while Nick has this giant ring box stuffed in his sock and is trying to make sure I don’t see it. If you look in the photo’s you can see a big square sticking out of his ankle!
We took regular “cute couple pictures” for about half hour, then started walking a different direction and Kayla continued telling us how to stand, “face back to back” OK, Nick turn around, OK, Savanna turn around..” and I turned around and he was down on one knee! But of course, being me, I didn’t understand, I thought maybe Kayla had told him to kneel cause we were taking some sort of kneeling down photos…? So I knelt down too and said what the heck kinda photo is this? FINALLY I figured it out, he asked, and eventually after laugh/crying for ten minutes I said yes . I’d truly never been more shocked and surprised, I had NO clue it was happening. We have beautiful pictures of all of it happening (including me, kneeling down in the snow like a moron). It was the best surprise ever.” [Photos provided by couple]
Alex Torcolacci (Bride-to-be, owner of Alexandra Lillian Weddings & Events)
In November 2016, my fiancé surprised me with a plane ticket to Toronto to accompany him for a day of sightseeing in advance of a business conference he was to attend. This was my first trip to the city, and little did I know it would be the most memorable trip of my life. After an amazing sleep at the Fairmont Royal York on Friday night, we awoke early Saturday morning to take in the city.
After a full day of exploring downtown Toronto (including Eaton Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum), we got decked out for a nice dinner at Cluny Bistro in the historic Distillery District. My fiancé told me that it was a very fancy restaurant, so I dressed accordingly. However, he decided to wear red denim… a questionable choice for a fancy restaurant, but I didn’t say anything about his decision.
As Cluny Bistro is right along the main road of the Distillery District, we were also treated to the Toronto Christmas Market. This is an annual pop-up market which includes several historical fenced in blocks and numerous vendors selling seasonal products and gifts (as well as kiosks with hot chocolate, a Ferris wheel, carousel, live band and bars). The cobblestone streets and red brick buildings serve as the perfect backdrops for a Christmas market. After dinner, we had the chance to walk around and take in the sites. We eventually came across a large “love” marquee sign. My fiancé covertly asked if I would like to get a photo together. I needed a new Facebook profile picture, so of course, I said yes.
My fiancé suspiciously handed his phone off to someone in the market… This person happened to have two large cameras strapped to himself, this was odd, but I didn’t think much of it. As I started to position myself in front of the marquee sign, my fiancé turned me toward me. He said, “I hope you have had a wonderful trip.” I felt him reaching for his pocket, and get down on one knee. I was overtaken with joy that I could not look away from him. With over a hundred people clapping and cheering, all I could see was him. No words can express the happiness I felt at that moment. The love of my life wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
The man who took our photo came up to us, I initially thought to return my fiance’s phone. As it turned out, my fiancé pulled out all the stops and had hired him, a professional photographer, to capture our proposal and take photos of us for the evening. My fiancé had never met the photographer before, and my fiancé told him to look for the guy matching is description wearing red denim. Now the red denim and two large cameras made sense!
That night we celebrated our engagement with two close friends in Toronto. Wandering around Queen West in the wee hours of the morning, we caught the first snowfall of the year. It was the perfect way to spend our engagement!
Now onto planning the rest of our lives together!