wedding planning advice Archive

FAQs: Ceremony Planning Tips

In a wedding world that places so much emphasis on all the pretty things and little details (which I obviously and absolutely adore!) some soon to be brides and grooms can forget the most important part of their big day; you know, the part where you officially become married to your significant other. I know from my experiences working with my clients, that finding that balance between ceremonial tradition and a uniqueness that won’t bore your guests to sleep, can be tough. The good news is there are so many endless options for making your ceremony reflective of you and your fiance. Here’s my thoughts on what you can do to make your ceremony be the best part of your wedding day!


Engage Your Guests If having your guests fall asleep as you say I Do has you dreading your current ceremony plans, think about involving them into the act. There are so many ways to do this and the best part is your guests will appreciate the honor and be more likely to stay awake and alert. For those non-church weddings, you could have your guests sit in a circular formation around your alter, signifying your audience completing the union between you and your soon to be spouse. Consider passing your wedding rings around the room, inviting guests to ‘bless’ each ring as it is passed along (we did this ourselves and our guests absolutely loved it). Or have your officiant invite three to five guests at random, as they wish, to stand and share advice on marriage in lieu of a traditional reading or verse. Guests will love the change of pace and are sure to stay engaged in your ceremony especially if they know you’re depending on them.

Skip Tradition Maybe you’re a nontraditional kind of couple. Sand ceremonies? Yuck. Unity candles? No thanks. Singing your vows with your musical-lover fiance? Awesome. Someone do this and hire me to plan that celebration please and thank you! So many brides and grooms fear the nontraditional. It’s an unspoken rule that ceremonies have to be done a certain way (which sometimes they do) but truth be told you can do whatever you’d like as you and your spouse make a commitment to on another (pending church/religious rules). Maybe you’d like to walk down the aisle alone. Or walk down the aisle with your soon to be husband! As long as your sign a license and follow your country’s or state’s guidelines on what must be said and done during the ceremony (In Ontario our officiant had to say by law “by the power invested in me” part) feel free to do whatever best represents you and your fiance’s love, relationship and style.

Add A Bit Of Tradition With that being said, if you want to still follow some sort of tradition, there are a few things that are totally fun and traditional to do it would be a bummer not to include them. My personal faves both personally and professionally? Walking down the aisle, kissing your new spouse for the first time, or even giving your husband the best accessory he will ever own :) As much as you want your ceremony to stand out from the others your guests have seen, it is a wedding ceremony and you’ll want some components to reflect that (and believe me so will your parents and if applicable, your sweet grandma). Your guests are there to love and support you, and regardless of how you say I Do it’s a given they’ll cheer you on as you walk back down the aisle as husband and wife, sand ceremony or not.

Married chicks, what did you do during your ceremony that was unique? What about tradition? What ideas can you share with brides to be? The gorgeous photo above is from an amazing HGE summer wedding last year at The Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Amy Carroll shot that beautiful celebration. That dress gets me every time! xoxo

FAQs: Engagement Session Style

Once upon a time my handsome better half and I had engagement photos taken. You can see them here. I’ll wait.

And now, thanks to my totally awesome job, I get to help my clients prep for their sessions too. I remember so clearly talking with one of my former brides Nicole (the babe below) about her engagement session with Beth Kaye last summer, and what the benefits would be of going through with one. After Nicole agreed she’d love to take advantage of that prime pre-wedding time with her and Chris in front of the camera, and Beth behind it, I was so excited to see how the photos turned out. Nicole and Chris ended up nailing their engagement session style and as a result inspired me to write a post about how you too can create a look for your e-session that looks effortless and picture perfect.


{Be You} Nicole and Chris are an eclectic, down to earth couple with a distinct and totally rad sort of style (wait until you see their incredible wedding.) Amazingly there’s a cohesive look and feel between their aesthetic style, the furnishings and decor in their home, the style of their wedding and the interests they both share. They love the outdoors and are huge fans of natural and organic elements; tied together with a bit of whimsy. So in the above photo you can see just that. A little bit of whimsy, the great outdoors, and a whole lot of personality that you’d know is a true reflection of Nicole and Chris if you got to know them for just ten seconds. There’s nothing better than just being you in engagement photos. If cowboy boots and seersucker sun dresses are your thing, don’t try to stuff yourself into a LBD and a pair of Jimmy’s because chances are you’ll feel awkward in your photos. And that’s just how they’ll look.


{Coordinate} I have to admit I didn’t give Nicole or Chris any direction in picking out their photo locations, outfits or props (like mentioned above, I gave Nicole more guidance on just having an engagement session to begin with!) But I’m so impressed with how well they coordinated their multiple outfits together. When Nicole added a bit of gold sparkle to her neckline, Chris threw on a tie. When Nicole changed into a plaid button up shirt, Chris switched up his shoes and unbuttoned his shirt a bit. Just like your other half’s personality compliments yours, your significant other’s outfits should work together with yours too. It’s so easy for chicks to find engagement worthy outfits and accessories but don’t forget about your dude either! When you both look and feel your best that’s when your photos will really shine.


{Sweat the Small Stuff} I know I said above to Be You, and perhaps you’re not a Sweat the Small stuff kind of chick, but when it comes to your engagement photos you might want to consider some minor details. Things like how your nails look, what sort of accessories you’ll wear, if your shoes have the price tag stuck to the bottom still, if your treasured ring is going to be cleaned prior to the shoot, if your fiance has scheduled a hair cut for the day before and you both like it best when it’s a bit longer, if you’re getting your highlights redone closer to the date and even if your new pair of skinnies are see through; these are all things to consider. If you’re using your photos for things like Save the Dates, newspaper announcements, canvases or guestbooks, chances are you’ll want your photos to be simply divine.

So let’s hear it! What did you wear in your engagement session? Feel free to share links to your photos, below xoxo

FAQs: Bridesmaid Style 101

If there’s one thing I wish I would have put more research into when planning our own wedding, it would have been bridesmaid dresses. My girls ended up wearing this gown here, which in my humble opinion is a classic and a dress that could be worn again and again. But after seeing my fair share of bridesmaid style over the past few years, it’s safe to say the typical maid look has really evolved. Depending on your big day style, the shapes and sizes of your gorgeous girls, and of course the target price point you’re all willing to spend, there are endless places to scour these days for the perfect dress. So before your feel like you’ll be confined to the aisle of a David’s Bridal looking for a needle in a haystack, check this out. A Coles Notes version on bridesmaid style 101 from Yours Truly. You can all thank me later with a Starbuck’s gift card or something :)

{Sassy} The sassy bridesmaid look is the one that might involve showing a little skin while keeping things modest and fresh. For Meg’s bridesmaids who stood by her side this past September, they were decked out in the most amazing gray dresses. With a figure-hugging fit, and fabric floral detailing across the bust, these gowns perfectly coordinated with not just the bride’s aesthetic preference but the overall wedding look (think downtown city, clean lines and Tiffany-blue-classic). Paired with nude heels the girls were the epitome of sass and class! For gowns like these and other kinds of sassy bridesmaid gowns check out Rickety Rack, ASOS, BCBG and Vera Wang. Photo by Young Hearts Photography and much more on this wedding soon!

{Playful} If you’re the kind of bride who is a bit more laid back and inspired by anything vintage, whimsical and full of color, you might want to consider the route that Jessy took for decking out her girls this past summer. Instead of giving her maids a set dress style to purchase, she gave them a color and free range to find a playful and comfortable gown that each girl liked best. Each girl shared their findings with the bride before purchasing and the result was more than perfect! If you’re a fan of the mismatched, playful gown look check out stores like Anthropologie (Jessy’s fave!), Lulus, Spool No. 72, and Francescas. Photo above by Michael Murphy IV, and more from this wedding over here (including the backs of those adorable gowns).

{Feminine} Confession: a femininely dressed group of bridesmaids is my favorite kind of dressed up group. Duh! Anything sporting ruffles, pastel colors and soft fabrics falls into this category and really seems to be a style I see the most of. For Mary Beth and Tom’s wedding this past August, the bride had her eight bridesmaids wear these gorgeous lavender coloured Amsale gowns. Not only did the color perfectly match the rest of the wedding decor, but the short length of the gowns and halter style played into the wedding day landscape up at Crooked Creek Ranch. For more gowns like these check out Bari Jay, Ivy and Aster, BHLDN and Jenny Yoo. Photograph above by Harrison Studio, with more on this gorgeous wedding over here.

{Chic} If there was a one stop shop that specializes in chic bridesmaid dresses, in my opinion it would have to be J. Crew. From the expansive fabric selection, to the different kinds of shapes to choose from, J. Crew is such a great resource for flattering, affordable and wearable bridesmaid’s gowns. Some other great options for chic choices? Banana Republic, Jim HjelmMonique Lhuillier and Dessy. For Ashley’s summer art gallery wedding, she had her girls wear gowns from Alfred Sung with the freedom to pick a neckline that each girl liked best. Seeing each girl feel comfortable and glowing in their chosen style was so refreshing! And you can see even more from this wedding here, with all photographs from my girl, Beth Kaye.

Tell me, what did any of you choose to have your bridesmaids wear? Or what style is your fave from above?

Happy Monday, bloggies! xoxo

FAQs: Differences Between Planners, Coordinators and Stylists

I remember sitting on a train from Toronto to Burlington months before I launched my business, thinking of what exactly I would specialize in as a wedding planner. I knew I wanted to have a big part in creating an aesthetic look for people’s wedding day but I also wanted to give them advice and guidance throughout their planning process, as well as be there on the day itself since these were things I definitely missed having as a bride. Knowing what you want to do as a wedding vendor is easy but putting this down on paper, naming a price for these services and educating potential clients on what you can do for them can be really tricky to do correctly. Here’s a little breakdown for both inquiring brides to be and aspiring wedding professionals to help you differentiate between wedding planners, coordinators and stylists and what each job title specifically entails. Read on!

{Wedding Planners} A full service wedding planner’s role is to be your advocate every step of the way throughout your planning process. Typically, a full service planner is hired immediately after an engagement and is responsible for countless things. From overseeing the logistics of your wedding, selecting vendors that fit in with your budget and style, and assisting with areas involving etiquette, tablescapes and a day of timeline, a wedding planner can be a key player in making your wedding day truly come together. On the big day s/he is typically responsible for managing all involved vendors, handling final payments and gratuities on your behalf and fixing any problems should they arise. By the time your big day arrives, the person you have hired will know you, your fiance, potentially your family and friends, and ultimately your wedding day vision in every form and capacity possible. A full service wedding planner should provide you with a service that feels like it was undeniably the most valuable investment you made wedding-wise. And in my personal opinion if you really find the perfect fit in a wedding planner, they will become a friend in you and your spouse’s life long after your wedding has come and gone.

{Day Of Wedding Coordinators} A DOC (as they are traditionally called in short form) is a wedding planner hired partially through the planning process. Couples looking for a DOC are typically a few months out from their big day and are starting to feel like an extra set of hands will be helpful in those last few critical planning stages. Day of coordinators typically start their communication with their clients anywhere from eight to three weeks prior to the wedding day, and will get caught up the speed on everything that has already been planned and vendors who have been secured. Your DOC will create a timeline for your wedding day, manage the logistics of the day and handle ‘day of’ issues, much like what a full service planner would do. They will however in most cases offer much more limited services in comparison to the services a full service wedding planner offers. For obvious reasons, day of services are significantly less money than full service wedding planning packages.

{Wedding Stylists and Designers} Some full service planners include styling and design services in their full service packages (like I do). Some also offer other services like floral design and stationery products but a stylist or designer is essentially responsible for focusing on the aesthetics of your big day. Tablescapes and linens, bouquets and centrepieces, photo backdrops, favor ideas, ceremony programs, floor plans, decor and lighting; all of these things are details that make up the look and vibe of your wedding and are components that a stylist will help you to perfect. A really amazing stylist will be able to guide you into making decisions so the above mentioned areas all fit cohesively together. Some select vendors will offer styling or design services without being bundled together with coordination services (i.e., they will help make your wedding look a specific way but they won’t be at the church to make sure your flower girl gets down the aisle on time) but most group their styling services into their full service planning and coordination packages as to provide an inclusive experience for their clients.

You can catch more of this article over here in Mag Rouge. Above photo from Amy Carroll from a Hey Gorgeous wedding this past summer (the bride and groom have requested to remain anonymous). Does the above information clarify the different job responsibilities wedding vendors can have? And for all you married chicks, did any of you hire someone to help you plan, design or coordinate your wedding? I’d love to hear your thoughts below! Have the happiest of Monday, beauties xoxo

Pep Talk Tuesday {Trusting Your Vendors}

I did a wedding once where five minutes before the bride was set to walk down the aisle, all of a sudden she had a hundred questions for me. Did the groomsmen know when they were supposed to walk? Would the musician know when to start the processional? Did her veil look OK? Before I could even answer any of my sweet bride’s questions, the bride’s Dad kindly told her to be quiet. And to ‘Just let Rhi do exactly what you hired to do,’ because my bride may have not known at that point but the groomsmen were already all in place, the DJ was going to be looking out for my cue to start the processional and her veil, which her mother wore on her wedding day ironically at that same venue many years before, looked perfect. Not that that really mattered at that moment. But what did matter is I was there to meet my client’s expectations by ensuring I was doing my job. By ensuring that everyone absolutely trusted me and my abilities to do exactly what I had promised to them.

I was chatting with a photographer colleague of mine the other day and we touched on the topic of trusting your wedding vendors on the big day. I couldn’t believe that some brides still send double paged shot lists to someone whose been shooting for almost a decade and has been published dozen of times. It’s beyond me that you’d pay big bucks to work with a professional that you’re obviously interested in, only to slightly doubt their capabilities. I’m not saying my bride mentioned above didn’t trust me in the above situation because I know she did. But sometimes, like when I come up with a really cool and I mean cool as ice idea and present it to a client only to have them say “I don’t know if that’ll look good,” I want to fly a pink jet over their home, with a banner trailing behind amongst the clouds, that reads “Just trust! This idea is going to be so badass!”

If you’re the type of bride, groom, mother of the bride or father of the groom that feels the slightest bit apprehensive about hiring a particular professional, it’s best to investigate your fears. Meeting said vendor in person before signing a contract can help ease your fears. Sometimes speaking to said vendor’s past clients about your questionss may help clear up any doubts you have. And sometimes just letting go and trusting that you picked the perfect candidate for the job can be the best bet to ensure a worry-free wedding day. You shouldn’t have to feel the need to remind your photographer to snap a photo of you and your sister together. Most photographer’s will instinctively snap this shot. And you shouldn’t be worried about how your veil looks ten seconds before you start the biggest walk of your life. Because I’ll make sure it looks just perfect on that head of yours.

See? Such determination I have. It’s a serious world of veils out there, friends!

Photo from the amazing as always Julie Harmsen. Miss you, Jules :) xoxo