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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!


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.


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!
WGxPhotoshootum (110 of 444)


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


Mary Bratko Wedding Planning Expert Canada

WeddingGirl.ca - Cecilia + Chris - Day Of Coordination


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.







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.


WGx 2nd Floor Events Mary Bratko Toronto 2


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.




{ 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.


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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November 1, 2015

Welcome, Movember! | #WGxMovember

Filed under: Bridal Blog — Tags: , , , — WeddingGirl @ 10:16 am

{ Fuzzy Kisses For A Good Cause }

Bride.mustache (1)

It’s that time of year again, my dears! The men we love are getting hairy for a good cause.

Movember‘ is a visual brand that inspires men to grown moustaches they wouldn’t otherwise don and raise funds and awareness for issues around men’s health. Social media channels become laden with Mo-Bro-progress … and there’s even some Mo-Sistas out there who do their part as well! As always, WeddingGirl is showing her support.

Every year we choose a Movember team to cheer for and this year we’ve chosen to collaborate with fellow entrepreneur and dreamer Jake Stika – the founder of non-profit organization, Next Gen Men.

Next Gen Men was launched in November of 2014 with the help of Movember’s first Canadian Men’s Health and Wellbeing Innovation Challenge. NGM runs an after-school program which aims to engage, educate, and empower boys aged 12-16 around societal constructs of masculinity. With the alarming rise in rates of depression, suicide, and domestic violence amongst men, it is timely and important work to disrupt prevalent ideas surrounding toxic masculinity and present young boys with a multitude of opportunities to be a man that contributes positively to their community.




Show your Movember support for WeddingGirl.ca

+ Next Gen Men by donating here:


Movember Canada – Next Gen Men



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October 23, 2015

#WGxBigThings :: Vendors ….

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 8:07 pm


Have you heard? We’re making some HUGE changes around here and we basically couldn’t be any more excited about them.

(How excited is REALLY excited? - the kind of excited you would get if you saw unicorns riding bicycles over rainbows! – it’s a thing, right?)


And we’re getting equally as excited to share sneak peeks into what’s happening around these parts. It’s no surprise that we love gushing about our favourite vendors on our blog, through our social media accounts, and in our Vendor Showcase – because we know that what we say matters to girls in love! How lucky we are to connect Nearlyweds with super-awesome vendors we know they can count on.

Well, Vendors…. now more than ever, you’re going to want to stay tuned. THIS hint’s for you!

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October 20, 2015

#WGxBigThings :: Wedding Planners….

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 11:44 am

{ #WGxBigThings…  }

Almost daily we receive emails from wedding planners eager to feature their work on the WeddingGirl.ca blog.

So long as Mary + her team were planning weddings themselves, it wasn’t possible to shift the spotlight to other event artists – despite their incredible talent and passion. Well…. things are changing around here… remember that Sneak Peek trailer we posted a few days ago??

Wedding Planners, take note…. THIS hint’s for you!


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

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October 19, 2015

#WGxBigThings :: Brides….

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 2:21 pm

{ #WGxBigThings … }

Carly and Mary were in the WeddingGirl studio today….. and, Brides, this hint’s for you!

{behind-the-scenes} …

WGxBigThings WeddingGirl.ca Studio Toronto

Carly Whiteman WeddingGirl.ca

Mary Bratko WeddingGirl.ca


Missed our Sneak Peek video? Watch it here!

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October 13, 2015

#WGxBigThings :: 2015 Sneak Peek Promo

Filed under: Bridal Blog — WeddingGirl @ 3:38 pm

{ #WGxBigThings }

If you follow us on the Instagrams (@WeddingGirlca) you’ve seen some hints being dropped here and there that some BIG changes are coming to the WeddingGirl brand…. and the hinting ensues!

Canada's First Wedding Planner Blog Network WeddingGirl.ca

We’ve been working so hard, behind-the-scenes, to transition WeddingGirl.ca into something that none of us have ever seen before… not within our brand, not in Toronto….. not in the entire country.


We mean serious wedding-planning-business.

In the past few years, what it means to plan a wedding has changed lightyears. I mean, when WeddingGirl first started, Facebook was still new, none of us had any idea how to use Twitter, and Pinterest and Instagram were barely even a glimmer in their developers’ eyes. It was a different world back then!

Well…. as things in the industry changed, so did we.

Mary Bratko WeddingGirl.ca

First, we launched WeddingGirl-Multiplied, then we opened up the Fraîche Floral Studio. Earlier this year, some accidental marketing projects turned into an exciting new digital media strategy for ourselves and our favourite vendors in the industry … and suddenly we realized we were staring down the barrel of a COMPLETELY new WeddingGirl.ca experience.

The big things coming in the next few weeks are the first of their kind and entirely unprecedented… and they say that when something equally excites and terrifies you, you should definitely do it.

So, without further ado…. here’s our next hint! <3


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September 22, 2015

Vendor Love: Meet Doris | LoveLettering.ca

{ lalaLOVE … }

You know that moment when you’re planning a wedding and you stumble upon something super-awesome-amazing and you want to share it with EVERYONE!?! Well…. meet Doris. And what we just described is basically how we felt when we found LoveLettering.ca.

Doris Wai LoveLettering.ca

Umm…. her custom-lettered (reusable) Starbucks cups for that epic Newly-Engaged or Wedding-Morning ring shot?! YES PLEASE!

LoveLettering.ca Doris Wai Starbucks Bride Cup


Goodness… does it get any more adorable than this?!

Starbucks Engagement Ring Personalized Lettered Cup 1

Starbucks Engagement Ring Personalized Lettered Cup 2

Starbucks Engagement Ring Personalized Lettered Cup 3

Starbucks Personalized Cup LoveLettering Doris Wai 1

Starbucks Engagement Session LuckyBird Photography


You can order your custom-lettered Starbucks cups over at Doris’ Etsy Shop! Our order is already placed!


Visit Link Here


{ blog love – Photog Credits: Just Love Me Photography | Deonna Caruso Photography | LuckyBird Photography }

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