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May 24, 2016

love in the vineyard| Niagara wine country tour

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 11:31 am

{ Birthday Bubbles + Wine Country }

It’s no secret that wine and vineyards continue to top the charts when it comes to the most romantic spots for proposals, engagements, and Happily Ever Afters! How lucky are we in the Toronto area that in only a short hour drive we’re nestled in the heart of some of the most incredible wineries that the North American continent has to offer?!

Mary Bratko WeddingGirl goes to Wine Country Niagara

It was my birthday this past weekend and I got the best. surprise. EVER – an afternoon of birthday bubbles in my favourite wine region!

Tips for touring Wine Country? Don’t drive yourself! You can book an amazing limousine wine tour through local transportation companies like Gem Limousine. Dapper drivers like Jim will show up at your door and chauffeur you around to wineries of your choice. You can create your own itinerary or they can make one for you!

Mary Bratko WeddingGirl gem limo Jordan Wine Tour

Having your own driver means that you can spend more time doing other things in the car like…. detangling a necklace, tweeting about going on a wine tour, and posting a selfie…

Niagara Wine Tour Gem Limo

Angel’s Gate Winery was my first stop of choice – they have some of the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted out of southern Ontario (and I’m totally a chard snob).

Angels Gate Winery Beamsville

This spot might top the list for most romantic winery to get down on one knee than with a glass of rosé bubbles and this storybook view:

Angels Gate Winery Sparkling Rose

Mary Bratko Angels Gate Winery Tour

With the Chardy Party well underway, Tawse was the next stop to taste some bold Niagara red wines.

Driving up to Tawse is pretty impressive even if you don’t know that the wines there are really delicious. And Snapseed makes Tawse look like it’s stepped out of a futuristic sci-fi.

Gem Limo Niagara Wine Tour

Tawse Winery Jordan Beamsville Niagara

When a Toronto wedding photographer goes on wine tours, he ends up taking really amazing shots like this:

Tawse Winery Niagara Sparkling Wine

While the wedding blogger gets to dance on picnic tables in the vineyard and sip sparkling…

Niagara Wine Tour WeddingGirl.ca

ONWARD!

To Megalomaniac… where the chandeliers are the size of my car, the Homegrown Red is fantastic, and you get to sport a bowler while you taste. Sadly you’re not allowed to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio (a super-awesome way to enjoy your time at most other wineries in this area) – but maybe it’s coming soon? Amazing staff totally made up for it, though.

Megalomaniac BubbleHead Sparkling Niagara

WeddingGirl at Megalomaniac Winery

Next stop: Featherstone… where there’s the most gorgeous little vintage verandah overlooking the vineyards… and when you’re not busy working on alliterations you get to design your own Niagara meat and cheese boards to sample with your sparkling…

Featherstone Winery Jordan Niagara Wine Country

Alsooo, the teeniest taste of pure JOY – 2012 Premium Cuvée in this crazy-elegant feather-etched stemware that I totally wanted to snag but sadly they didn’t sell. Oh, sad day.

Featherstone JOY 2012 Premium Cuvee

BUT – on a positive note! When you learn about the fact that Featherstone gets their amazing Avonlea Cheddar from the nearby cheese boutique at Stoney Ridge Winery, you just get back in your limo and head there next!

And THIS…. my friends… is where it’s ALL at…. 2010 Stoney Ridge Estate Chardonnay… worth every premium penny spent – oaky, chewy, with these brilliant hints of buttery-vanilla-magic. It’s the bottle of wine you’ll use to toast every special occasion from here on, ever. (or, wait.. maybe that’s me?)

WeddingGirl Wine Tour Stoney Ridge

… also…. CHEEEEESE! We left with a Bleu D’Elizabeth, horseradish cheddar, and more of the Avonlea cheddar than I’ll ever know what to do with. Entirely not sorry.

Stoney Ridge Cheese Boutique Jordan

Last stop on the wine tour? One of the most boldly-marketed and near-and-dear-to-my-heart, off-the-beaten-path approaches to making and sharing wine… Flat Rock Cellars. I worked here while I was in university and learned the intimate in’s and out’s of what it means to buy, build, grow, and excel at everything-wine.

Flat Rock Cellars Wine Tour Niagara

Gravity-Fed.

State-of-the-Art.

All etched into a completely stunning property boasting a striking view of the Toronto skyline on clear, sunny days.

Each vineyard has a story.

Each bottle label shares a piece of heart.

It’s a winery experience unlike any other…. actually.

WeddingGirl Wine Tour Niagara

WeddingGirl Wine Tour Flat Rock Cellars

Soooo, with Angel’s Gate, Tawse, Megalomaniac, Featherstone, Stoney Ridge and Flat Rock Cellars behind me, not only was it actually the best day in Niagara ever, it’s serious inspiration for lovebirds wanting to stay-cate, celebrate, or just get out of the city any unwind!

Happy Wine-Touring, Lovers!

(and thanks again for the spectacular day, Gem Limo!)

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May 22, 2016

Fore the love of golf | Bradlee Ryall Golf Academy

{ I Do’s + Golf Lessons }

Farmington Country Club Golf Wedding

Golf and nuptials go back about as far as peanut butter and jam on toast… seriously, more than half of the weddings we see involve golf to some extent: Groomsmens’ day out, morning-of driving range, saying “I Do” with rolling greens in the background. With golf courses becoming increasingly popular to host your wedding day celebrations, why aren’t more of us grabbing our clubs and hitting the greens leading up to (and after!) the Big Day as well?!

Last week I had a chance to meet golf pro Bradlee Ryall and take golf lessons at Bradlee Ryall Golf Academy in Mississauga. 

One thing I figured out pretty quick? These guys know golf (and have a mad passion for sharing the love!)

Bradlee Ryall Golf Academy Lessons Kaneff

I’ll be honest… I’ve never been much of a golfer. You know how the story goes: I was the girl who bought clubs because I was dating a boy who loved golf and I wanted to be cool like he was. I’m certain there are FAR better ways to get into the sport! Maybe it was the investment I made in pink clubs and pink-laced golf shoes that tagged my interest? I didn’t wear (or bring) them to meet Bradlee – I didn’t want to mislead the pro into thinking I had any idea what I was doing. I wore a polka-dotted coral number instead, and got to use these brand-spanking-new gorgeous blue Nike clubs – definitely for the win! (Thanks, Lion Head!)

Bradlee Ryall Kaneff Golf Academy

Nike Blue Golf Clubs Lion Head Kaneff

Now, I wish that I could say gorgeous new clubs and a wicked pro-golfer instructor makes for a good play… but to be honest, I barely hit the ball. I blame a torn rotator cuff in my shoulder – though I don’t think my lack of natural talent was remotely related.

Bradlee, on the other hand, is a golf-master Jedi. With a BA from Western, a post-grad in golf management, and experience working and playing around the world, if anyone’s going to make you a pro (or at least LOVE the game) – it’s this guy.

Bradlee Ryall Golf Mississauga

“Do it like this! Not like this!” – and as I learned about tension-free swinging (applying pressure but not a strong grip, etc) – I couldn’t help but consider what a super awesome gift this would be around wedding planning time… SO many possibilities!

Bradlee Ryall Kaneff Academy Golf Lessons

You can literally gift golf lessons for EVERYTHING wedding-related!

Newly engaged? Golf lessons as a way to bond and distract yourself from stressful planning weekend after weekend.

Planning a wedding? Gift golf to the Groomsmen as a thank-you experience (nobody needs another engraved flask).

Golf Lessons for the Fathers as a Thank-You for everything they’ve done to help with the wedding plans.

Gift the Newlyweds a membership + golf clinic to de-stress and have some fun on the greens together after they tie the knot!

Seriously… golf-everything…. it’s sunshine, exercise, bonding, a little competitive spirit, and golf carts. Who doesn’t create memories in a golf cart?

And if you happen to end up lucky enough to be golfing at a club as gorgeous as Lion Head, the food’s pretty awesome as well. I speak from experience…

WeddingGirl Kaneff Golf Academy

Kaneff Golf Academy WeddingGirl Raymi Toronto

Goooo golf!

And here’s a photo my friend Rob took of me figuring out Golf In a Box….  my wicked instructor Bradlee created this DIY order-taking iPad software to make my golf-lesson-buying entirely wedding-planner proof and easy-peasy. I basically have no excuse not to learn. Challenge Accepted.

——

Kaneff Golf Academy Bradlee Ryall

( blog love | photog credit :: @AnnaAndSpencerPhotography }

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May 2, 2016

Toronto’s Original Bridal Swap | a huge success!

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 9:57 am

{ The Original Bridal Swap – Toronto West }

A few weeks ago we were so excited to share that The Original Bridal Swap was making its FIRST-EVER appearance in Toronto this year!

Well, not only did the Swap take place in Toronto this past week, it was an absolutely amazing success! So much love and heartfelt happiness is being sent out to the fierce-spirited Vicky over at Perfect Planners for lovingly stitching this incredible event together.

If you haven’t heard of The Original Bridal Swap before – here’s a peek at the awesomeness that went down in the 6ix last week.

It was a wedding show unlike all other wedding shows. At THIS show, PAST BRIDES sold their previously-loved wedding items (decor, fashion, accessories and DIY gems) to FUTURE BRIDES! – like a super fancy flea market with way better music. The oh-so-talented Jessilynn Wong was there to capture the fab.

Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport Wedding Bridal Swap 1

Vicky Perfect Planners Toronto Original Bridal Swap - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

Vintage Suitcase wedding - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

{ Previously-Loved Bridal Fashion }

We all know that gone are the days of superstitions around wedding day frocks.  Bridal gown prices at The Original Bridal Swap ranged anywhere from $300-$800 - do you know a blushing bride who said “Yes!” to a dress at the show?

Original Bridal Swap Toronto West 2016

Original Bridal swap Toronto West - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

{ DIY Gems }

Another wedding day To-Do that’s awesome to pick up previously-loved? Signage and table numbers! You can never go wrong with class, timeless gold or white… and you might just be lucky enough to come across a Newlywed who’s already made beauties in your exact theme.

Wooden Table Numbers - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

White Table numbers - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

Coral Green Wedding Table Numbers - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

Mirror Wedding Sign - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

{ Saving on Centrepieces }

These stylish finds went from lovingly-made to excitedly-found at the Swap as well.

DIY Gold Centrepiece - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

Gold Manzanita centrepiece - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

White Wedding Lanterns - Bridal Swap Toronto JessilynnWongPhotography

{ sweet treats }

And how can you not love a Sunday afternoon of wedding day dreams finished off with sweet treats custom-made with local love?

Toronto Bridal Swap Sweet Treats Wedding

———-

For questions about Toronto’s inaugural Original Bridal Swap,

or to inquire about the next Swap event in your area,

contact event organizer

Vicky of Perfect Planners

 

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April 19, 2016

meet PrettyBird | Canada’s 1st on-demand mobile beauty app

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 1:21 pm

{ Hiring Makeup Artists + Hair Stylists! }

“So, it’s like Uber – for faces?”

Yup! Pretty much!

PrettyBird is Canada’s 1st on-demand mobile beauty app – connecting the ease and convenience of technology with the affordability and accessibility of Hair Stylists and Makeup Artists anywhere, anytime. Whether you’re getting married, in a wedding party, attending a wedding as a guest or you’re a wedding vendor posing for promo photos throughout the day – this app is designed to get you gorgeous, FAST! On demand and on location.

PrettyBird App Canada Mobile Beauty Artist Stylist OnDemand copy RESIZED

But before there’s a PrettyBird app, there needs to be a PrettyBird team of Hair Heroes and Makeup Mavens to make it happen! If you’re Canadian, over the age of 18, and certified in the Beauty Arts (or have equivalent real-world experience), head over to the Apple App or Google Play store to download PrettyBird-Artist and sign-up!

Download The PrettyBird Artist App mockup

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Sign up as a PrettyBird Client and receive VIP updates + perks at

www.PrettyBirdApp.com

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April 11, 2016

By Calin | Toronto Wedding Photographer

Filed under: Love,Media,Photography,WG Media — WeddingGirl @ 10:50 am

 { November Rain | Photography LOVE }

By Calin – Toronto Wedding Photographer

Bride and Groom waiting...

It was a chilly Saturday in November and the cold Canadian weather just did not want to cooperate with us.

The couple had planned a long photo shoot in a park next to their wedding venue but the rain kept pouring – without stop. we half-heartedly reverted to our back-up plan: indoor photos instead. For a few brief minutes the bride and groom escaped into their limo to warm up and I could feel their energy and excitement falling with every raindrop.

Despite the fact that they were enjoying their wedding day, the cold rain took its toll and the Newylyweds decided, after a brief chat in the limo, that they did not want to take any more photos and instead just wait in the car as guests began to arrive.

Even though the weather was something we couldn’t possibly control as wedding photographers, I somehow felt responsible for their misfortune. I wanted to give these two beautiful people a beautiful image despite the trying conditions outdoors.  I asked my assistant to put an off-camera flash inside the car and I waited at a distance, armed with a long lens – I just knew that something was about to happen. I chose to focus on the droplets on the window, rendering the bride and groom out of focus, and I waited.

The piercing cold rain was falling, still without stop, and I was soaked. The couple talked amongst themselves and nothing seemed to announce itself as an incredible moment. I grew impatient. That’s when, suddenly, they decided to leave the limo, kissed, then smiled at the same time while looking at the venue where their friends and families were waiting for them. That’s when the magic happened.

The Newlyweds love this moment. I love this moment. This moment is what makes a photographer not just a guy with a camera, but an artist.

A moment, a flash, and a cold November rain.

—–

About the photographer: Calin is an award winning Toronto wedding photographer shooting in the Toronto area and traveling worldwide.

Take a peek at more of Calin’s work by visiting him over at www.bycalin.com or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bycalin

 

 

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March 7, 2016

The Original Bridal Swap | Toronto

{ The Original Bridal Swap }

Hey Brides – did you know that The Original Bridal Swap is making its FIRST-EVER appearance in Toronto this year?!

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 1

Haven’t heard of The Original Bridal Swap before? You don’t even know the amazing that’s about to show up in your area…

This is a wedding show unlike all other wedding shows. At THIS show, PAST BRIDES sell their previously-loved wedding items (decor, fashion, accessories and DIY gems) to FUTURE BRIDES! – it’s like a super fancy flea market with way better music.

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 4

{ the History }

The Original Bridal Swap is the brainchild of Genève McNally & Sarah Shore, founding partners and principal planners of Vancouver’s busiest wedding planning firm, DreamGroup Productions Inc. The Bridal Swap concept came about one afternoon when Genève was expressing frustration for the millionth time that there had to be someplace else other than Craig’s List and Kijiiji for her clients to sell their gowns and décor after the wedding.

“Isn’t there somewhere that Brides can go to sell their wedding decor and dresses? AHA!!! Why don’t we create an event where they can? We could call it Bridal Swap!” – and that’s when the magic happened.

The primary focus of this fab event? To encourage elegant  up-cycling of beautiful wedding details, in turn saving both the money and the environment.

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 3

{ the Gems to expect }

This event draws a very crafty “Do-It-Yourself-er” assembly of Brides from all walks of wedding life – budget backyard BBQ to opulent hotel affairs. These Brides are looking for special pieces and unique finds to incorporate into their weddings, plus they know that what they’re doing is eco-friendly and entirely inspiring.  Here’s what you can expect to find at the show:

• linens
• runners
• glassware
• mirrors
• frames
• cake stands
• veils
• candy table items
• and much more!

In addition to seeing Past Brides selling their wedding related items, décor companies also take part in the event to help clean out their stock and sell things such as fabric, linens, glassware, décor items and many other pieces that Brides are dreaming of!

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{ Previously-Loved Bridal Fashion }

Another super-exciting feature of this show? Bridal boutiques selling their in-store sample dresses, as well as past brides consigning their gowns! Basically, you’re left lucky enough to scour racks of gorgeous frocks to find your dream wedding threads at prices that’ll really give your budget a break!

Dress prices at The Original Bridal Swap typically range anywhere from $300-$800 - a pretty remarkable savings compared to the $2000+ you’ll pay in retail stores!

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 2

 

{ the best of the best in Wedding Vendors }

For those Brides who still need to lock down a photographer, florist, stationery designer or pastry chef – we’ve got you covered! A curated group of wedding experts will be on site to answer your questions and share products and services to help make your wedding day entirely picture-perfect.

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 10

{ Tickets + Details }

The Original Bridal Swap :: Toronto-West, brought to you by Perfect Planners will be taking place on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Toronto Airport from 12-4 p.m.

$15.00 Early-Bird Tickets grant you access to our show floor a whole hour before everyone else — it’s the easiest way to secure all the best finds and deals!  (Please note: only 200 advance tickets will be sold so make sure to book yours soon as they sell out FAST!)

$12.00 General Admission Tickets purchased in advance will give you access to the show floor at 12:00 p.m.

Last-Minute Brides can get into the Show on the Day-Of, $20.00 At The Door (cash only).

 

{ Swag to Sell? }

Past Brides with swag to sell are invited to purchase a table at the show for just $35.00 (6′ x 2.5′ tables available – linens provided). To pass along your wedding goodies to a blushing bride-to-be, register online via The Original Bridal Swap website.
Interested in selling, exhibiting or attending The Original Bridal Swap in Toronto? Register through our website:

 

www.torontowest.bridalswap.com

 

See you there!

The Original Bridal Swap Toronto 12

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November 10, 2015

To all you renegade romantic Wedding Planners out there…

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 12:13 pm

{ Canada’s Highest Profile Wedding Planners’ Network }

Palais Royale WeddingGirl.ca WGx Lisa Hardie

Yesterday, we made a pretty gigantic announcement…. that after almost seven years, and hundreds of weddings planned, this team of Wedding Planners is hanging up their planning capes!

Yup…. we’re moving over to create something that this city, this province, even this COUNTRY has never seen before!

As of today, right now, WeddingGirl.ca is no longer a website for Mary and her team to promote themselves as planners and feature their favourite work. As of this moment (and specifically with the new re-launch coming in a few short weeks!) WeddingGirl.ca exists entirely for you, Wedding Planners!

MaryBratkoWGxUniversityTorontoFacultyClub7

Originally created by a bride for other brides, the WeddingGirl.ca brand has been attracting hundreds of thousands of readers each month – over 150k per month to be exact!

That’s some serious traffic!

And now that our plans and passions have been re-focused to some new and exciting projects, we’re stepping off the WeddingGirl stage and shining the spotlight on you instead.

But don’t worry, we’re not throwing you to the wolves. You’ll have a team of strategists, editors, and sideline cheerleaders behind the scenes to offer advice, support, and feedback on featuring your work.

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When our newest website design is ready to be launched, this blog is going to be entirely curated by professional wedding planners for the wedding world at large!

WeddingGirl.ca, and all our current blog subscribers (almost 50,000 of them!) will become a channel for you to share your weddings, your clients, and your story with the world.

WeddingGirl.ca will be a stage for you to make an impact.

WeddingGirl.ca will be a stage for you to grow.

… all in the vein of building a strong, supportive, collaborative online experience.

Our years of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work to earn us some pretty spiffy web stats (almost 2million unique visitors in 2014!) will now be a springboard for new and seasoned wedding planners alike to connect with one another, to connect with vendors, and most importantly, to connect with Brides.

The countdown is on. We’re rolling out the pink carpet to introduce Toronto’s, Ontario’s, and all of Canada’s fiercest, most creative, most authentic and most impactful wedding planners – eager and excited to turn wedding day dreams into real-life memories.

{ a personal note from Mary }

To all you renegade romantic wedding planners out there…
You fearless beasts, this blog is for you. I’ve planned hundreds of weddings with thousands of vendors, wading through tens of thousands of ideas, inspirations, and plans. This industry is one of the most dynamic, challenging, colourful, inspirational, difficult, magical opportunities to write your own life’s love story alongside the epic tales of so many once-in-a-lifetime celebrations.
Today, I’m handing over my megaphone to all of you out there creating inspiration boards, answering emails at midnight and placing hundreds of escort cards neatly in a row. You have one of the most commendable careers on the planet, and ‘Community over competition’ always, Babes. Let’s get you the web-love you’ve earned!
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No more submitting to blogs and crossing all your fingers and toes for consideration. No more rejection notes. No more struggling to build your website’s online presence. We’re unveiling a brand new strategy to get YOUR wedding planning career seriously noticed… and we can’t wait to get started!

If you’d like to hop on board the new WeddingGirl.ca blog experience to promote yourself and YOUR brand, just Get In Touch and tell us about yourself! We want to hear about you, your business, your hopes, dreams and fears in this industry. Give us your hearts and passion and commitment to helping Brides everywhere and we’ll trade you for digital visibility that truly makes a mark. We’re working on something that’s about to change EVERYTHING…..

The countdown is on, Lovers!

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November 9, 2015

The end of a Wedding Planning era…. | #WGxBigChanges

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 9:35 am

{ #WGxBigChanges }

“You’re overthinking it.”

These three words were all the advice I needed to muster up the courage to write a blog that’s going to change everything.

And the words couldn’t be more true.

I have been overthinking this blog since months ago when I admitted its reality. This blog needs to be written. This story needs to be told. These changes need to be shared and the novelty and excitement that’s happening behind-the-scenes here at WeddingGirl.ca finally needs to be allowed to spill over because it’s been bubbling up inside of all of us for months!

It’s the end of an era.

After six years and ten months since creating the WeddingGirl.ca domain;

After six years and six months since working with my first bride and groom;

After almost a decade of loving weddings so hard that “Always a planner, never  wife” seemed exceptionally appealing to me;

It’s time to hang up my clipboard.

…. Orrr, I mean…. put away my iPad. Delete my planning app. Whichever. All of the things – it’s time to close them.

This particular wedding planning chapter, for me, has come to a end. And as I penned the new “About” section for the shiny new WeddingGirl website the other day, I realized just how far on this journey I’ve come.

WeddingGirl.ca Vintage Photography promo shoot - Amanda Lachapelle Photography 4

{ Once upon a time … }

Everything began, once upon a time, when I was in love and arguably far too young to have any idea what the hell I was doing. Sometimes I think we were both far too young to be making any kind of ‘Happily Ever After’ decisions… but when you’re young and you think you know everything, nothing will stop you from pursuing what it is you think you want.

And what I wanted was a fairytale.

As it turned out, I’m better at writing fairytales for other princesses, because my own was (fatefully?) doomed from the start.

I got engaged, planned a wedding, then realized we were having a wedding for all the wrong reasons, got disengaged, canceled everything. And that’s the story I told because I was too afraid to be judged by anyone else – that those who can’t do, teach. Over the years I received a lot of “Well, at least you didn’t go through with it.” comments based on the “About” section of my increasingly popular wedding planning blog. Alas, that wasn’t entirely the truth. I stopped the story where I felt I wouldn’t be quite so fiercely judged… and needed to time to grow into a skin where judgment doesn’t scare me anymore.

The truth is, that after cancelling that particular star-crossed affair, I met someone else.

Completely unexpectedly.

In a whirlwind he and I started spending time together, and I wanted to be a bride, and he wanted to have a wife, and out came another diamond and suddenly I was joyously entangled in another set of wedding plans.

I hadn’t taken the time to learn any life lessons in between.

I didn’t know what it meant to live my life for myself.

I had twirled from one set of the wrong arms directly into another because my wildly-insecure self felt loved and wanted and safe, etc. … and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have listened to anyone who warned me otherwise, even if they tried.

WeddingGirl.ca was born from the ashes of my own inability to wed.

WeddingGirl.ca Canadian Wedding Planning Blog

Well, I mean… I planned my own two weddings like a rockstar… and I went through with one of them… sort of….. a few short weeks after I breathed the wrong vows to the wrong groom, standing at the end of the wrong aisle, in the wrong dress (though, God knows it was all STUNNING!) that fairytale, too, would crumble.

WeddingGirl.ca Disney World Wedding Planner

WeddingGirl was the product of a med-school-bound, neuro-nerdy girl who had discovered satin, tulle, and photojournalistic photography. From dissecting sheeps brains to playing with petals, I took a complete 180° turn on life, love, and my career. 

I wasn’t engaged, and I wasn’t married.

I moved away from the world I’d grown up in and everybody in it.

I decided to spend my days doing what I loved, and if I hadn’t the foggiest clue about how to be in love myself I decided that at least I would surround myself with people who did.

And so, I planned.

WeddingGirl.ca Mary Bratko Wedding Planner Niagara Toronto Hamilton Rick Denham Photographer Photography

And planned, and planned, and planned and planned……

Mary Bratko Wedding Planner Expert Canada Karrie Marcel

Niagara Wedding Planner WeddingGirl.ca Day Of Coordination

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Mary Bratko Wedding Planning Expert Canada

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And as a handful of weddings turned to dozens, and dozens turned to hundreds, and hundreds of weddings turned into literally tens of thousands of plans, I got really good at what it means to design flowers, book a cake, discreetly manage the drunken guest who took off his clothes and fell asleep on the terrace of a politician-filled reception at a 5-diamond venue.

Not kidding.

Seriously, being a wedding planner makes you basically bullet-proof.

And as I became better and better at weddings, when the challenge of tipped-over decor and MIA limos stopped being a challenge, I refocused my attention onto my own storybook life. I knew I wasn’t in a place to consider Happily Ever Afters again… at least not in a white dress. I began to think about different adventures – ones made up of timezones and boarding passes rather than planning files and diamonds.

I began to write my own story.

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Mary - London

Nassau 2013

My story took me overseas and around the world; into the throes of sleepless nights and inspiring mornings. I met characters along the way who wrote chapters into my book that I never would’ve been able to write on my own. And while I helped couples iron out the wrinkles of their nuptial bliss, I simultaneously began to fall in love with a life entirely removed from what it means to be married to anyone but yourself.

I began to teach; aspiring planners, aspiring bloggers, aspiring entrepreneurs – I wanted them to know how very possible it was to live a life they loved.

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WGx 2nd Floor Events Mary Bratko Toronto 2

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And while I was still traveling, and teaching, and planning weddings, I became really turned on to the idea of media.

As a blogger I quickly realized that content had been the atomic particle of every inch of my digital marketing strategy. I began to look, strategically, at what it was I had done for the past few years to get the WeddingGirl brand so noticed – without really trying at all. I figured that if I could do it, I could also inspire other entrepreneurs and corporations to do it as well. Another passion project was born from a foundation I’d inadvertently been building for years. (more on this gem soon, I promise!)

Mary-Bratko-Entrepreneur-Blogger-Wedding-Planner-Toronto

Aaaaand so, today, in the midst of spins and twirls and random adventures within my own fairytale of life, it is with a bittersweet sentiment that I *officially* hang up my wedding planning cape – and all the wedding planning capes of all the beautiful faces of the WeddingGirl-multiplied team. Our planning chapters have been filled with their incredible stories and it’s time for us to turn the page.

Wedding Couples, wedding vendors, and other wedding planners alike have shaped, sculpted, and turned me into who I’ve become. Being a wedding planner teaches you strength, strategy, and resilience like nothing else. You think on your feet, you make everything pretty, and you realize at the end of every day just how many decisions you helped to shape, form, make. No wonder we spend our days exhausted! Outsiders look at our lives and picture J. Lo scampering around in stilettos and an ear-bud and think we have it made… but the truth is, the only one who’s made anything for us, is ourselves. Wedding planning is one of the most challenging, dynamic, inspiring, gruelling industries I’ve ever been a part of – and I’m confident most other wedding planners will agree.

So what does this mean now?

{ For all you seriously fierce planners out there … }

Wedding Planners…. our stage is now set for YOU.

We’re giving you a sharing platform like none other in Canada – an opportunity for you to grow your audience and gain traction and visibility in the wedding industry based upon the years of traffic and followership that this website has gained.

How would you feel if, at the click of a button, suddenly your story reached tens of thousands of subscribers?

Visibility is pretty powerful stuff… and that’s why we’ve decided to give it away.

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Wedding Planners…. tomorrow’s blog is for YOU!

Tomorrow we’ll be announcing all the juicy details of how the WeddingGirl.ca brand is about to turn being a Wedding Planner in Canada entirely on its head. And while this may be the end of this particular journey for me, this is only just the beginning for all of us together!

 

Stay Tuned!

 

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November 5, 2015

The Love Story of a Canadian Couple | Justin Trudeau + Sophie Grégoire

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 12:07 pm

{ a true Canadian love story }

With yesterday’s official swearing-in ceremonies complete, the Right Honourable Justin P. J.  Trudeau, eldest son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has ascended his parliamentary throne and officially begins his duties as the Prime Minister of our country. Yesterday marked a new page in a new chapter in the story of Canada – and with his family by his side – Justin Trudeau vowed to create a political rule entrenched in gender equality, contemporary thinking, and a governmental cabinet reflexive of our country as a whole.

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So all this political excitement has us begging the question… Who is Sophie Grégoire? and how did these two tie the knot??

Of course, with live broadcasts from Rideau Hall playing in the background yesterday morning, all of us romantic ravens here at WeddingGirl were dying to get to know our ‘Canadian First Lady’…. and peek back at their wedding story as it took place on May 28th, 2005 in Montreal, Quebec. From what we’ve found, it was a poised, elegant, understated but strikingly gorgeous affair.

Sophie and her leading ladies prepped that morning in the penthouse suite at elegant Hotel Le St-James, an upscale Old Montreal gem built in 1870. It was the most appropriate location for all wedding festivities to take place as this was the scene of Justin’s proposal to Sophie just a year before!

Hotel Le St James Montreal Quebec

The designers at Les Noces Couture were responsible for crafting Sophie’s ethereal gown – which she, as well, was instrumental in designing!

‘Totally original, just like Sophie.” – said Margaret Trudeau, Sophie’s soon-to-be mother-in-law.

With its gold-lace-embellished champagne sheath and billowing mantilla cathedral-length veil, this wedding gown is assuredly anything but ‘Cinderella’. A small, hand-tied bouquet of vendela white roses, teardrop earrings and french-manicured toes, Sophie chose to write her own elegant fairytale (and we’re loooving it!)

Justin Trudeau's Wedding

The lovebirds, Justin (age 33 at the time) and Sophie (age 30), exchanged public vows at Sainte-Madeleine d’Outremont church, and concluded their celebration more intimately with a Catholic service for immediate family.

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Church bells rang and bagpipes bellowed while joyous crowds cheered on the newlyweds as they descended church steps and made their way to the getaway car – Pierre Trudeau’s iconic 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster. Justin would be driving them away!

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The relatively small (< 200 guest) wedding reception took place at Le St-James. Canadian food adorned the tables, and in lieu of a wedding cake, the Bride opted to serve a lavish late night dessert buffet – quite ahead of her time, we might add! ‘No Cake!’ – she exclaimed. You go, Sophie!

… and then they lived happily ever after. at 24 Sussex Drive. The End.

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{ blog love: Maclean’s | Chatelaine | BCBlue | Peter Bregg Photography | Edmonton JournalThe Globe And Mail }

 

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A Real-World Fairytale | Wilanów Palace, Warsaw

 { a fairytale Autumn wedding in Poland }

“And he looked at her like a blind man seeing the sun for the first time.”

Agata and Konrad have a love story that’s made up of adventures and travel and photos snapped in all the corners of their tale together. But I’m certain nothing will ever top the fairytale that unfolded for us on this gorgeous Fall day at the historic Wilanów Palace in Warsaw. 

These palace walls are a national historic monument and have withstood all the country’s tribulations as well as both world wars. While parts of the palace were damaged in WWII and much of its art collection stolen by the Germans, the building itself was not destroyed after the Warsaw Uprising and would go on to be renovated and its invaluable collection would be repatriated.

The fairytale of this building reflects what it means to weather the storm and hold steadfast to a singlepointed purpose… much like the commitment to wed.

Last week, PureStorm Studios and Musiej Photography captured this couple in love…. and we were lucky enough to be a part of the act.

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Fairytale Cinderella Destination Wedding Poland

Purestorm Studios Destination Wedding Photographer

Palace Wilanow Warsaw Poland Autumn Wedding Photography

Warszawa Fotografia Weselna Warsaw Destination Wedding Photography

Must Have Wedding Photo Purestorm Studios Toronto

Must Have Wedding Photo List

Fairytale Wedding Destination Poland

Mark Wilson Purestorm Studios

Autumn Fall bride groom dancing

Autumn Fall Cinderella Bride

Wilanow Palace Poland Destination Wedding

Polish Warsaw Wedding Castle Fairytale

Must Have Wedding Photo Toronto Photography Mark Wilson

Konrad Agata Abram Poland Warsaw Wedding

Wedding Day Bride Groom Selfie Purestorm Studios
Wilanow Palace Wedding Warsaw Poland

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