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June 27, 2014

Grand Pride Wedding, Toronto | Casa Loma | Liberty Group

{ a fairytale story }

“I can’t believe you’ve been my best friend for 30 years… and today, I get to call you my husband.

The mid-afternoon sun was beaming down as I walked through the gardens of Casa Loma yesterday, but when I overheard those words I felt chills over my entire body. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man kiss another man… and a smile silently crept across my face.

Westend Photography GrandPrideWedding Toronto

How lucky I am to have accidentally witnessed such a beautiful moment.

How lucky we are to live in a place where anyone can kiss whomever they love… regardless of who’s watching. 

Yesterday changed everything.

Yesterday, for the first time in one hundred years, from atop Toronto’s most majestic wedding venue, a rainbow flag gently fluttered in the breeze.

Yesterday, for the first time in North American history, 110 same-sex couples came together for a wedding.

Westend Photography Casa Loma Toronto

Regardless of age, race, denomination, or sexual orientation, yesterday Toronto celebrated love.

“The city was looking to do something special to mark Pride Week.” – Nick Di Donato said to me  as we chatted in the garden. “They were looking to do something at City Hall, and that’s when the idea came to me.”

I can’t help but wonder whether the President and C.E.O. of Liberty Entertainment Group could have ever known the extent to which his forward-thinking vision would change countless lives.

“I have a vision for Casa Loma. I see this venue alongside Toronto’s greatest tourist attractions just like the CN Tower, the Toronto Zoo. I want Casa Loma to engage in city events, and what better way to engage one of North America’s premier wedding facility’s than to commemorate World Pride with the largest same-sex wedding celebration this country has ever seen?”

And just like that, Liberty Group’s palatial estate became the Grand Pride Venue.

By invite-only, nearly 1000 guests arrived at Casa Loma in the early afternoon – a couple hundred Nearlyweds, a couple hundred of their guests, and swarms of media from around the globe.


“We have cameras here from around the world,” Nick said to me, and smiled. “We’ve had calls from Israel, from South Africa. It takes a spectacular event like this, on a spectacular property, on a beautiful day, to give Marriage Equality the worldwide recognition that it deserves. This is a message to the world about Toronto – this is who we are and the example we want to set.”

As he addressed the group gathered beneath Casa Loma’s brand new, state-of-the-art glass garden tent, Di Donato called the day “Casa Loma’s coming out party”. Indeed, this ‘staunchy, 100-year old venue’ is becoming anything but.

Nick DiDonato Liberty Group Westend Photography

Yesterday marked a new vision for what it means to celebrate love in Toronto.

I asked Nick whether anyone objected, on moral, ethical, or religious grounds, when he first presented the idea to his Boards.

“If you’ve ever questioned same-sex marriage – all you need to do is look around today. How can you not believe in it?”

He wasn’t wrong.

As we glanced across the pristinely manicured gardens, the estate was abuzz with celebration. Emotions were running rampant around us and the love in the air was palpable.

How beautiful love flourishes to be when it’s not forced to hide in the corner.



“We’re a world in transition,” Nick added. “Toronto is further ahead in this transition than many others. We believe in love. We’re being bold about it. We’re embracing it. We’re spreading it out around the world. We are helping to move other people toward it.”

And as for the beauty of Casa Loma – well, it’ll be around for much longer than any of us will. A wistful smile broke across Nick’s face when he said to me, “This storybook venue offers a tradition for generations. Imagine your grandchildren being able to get married in the exact spot where your own fairytale began.”

…. a storybook ending, indeed.


To view our entire album from yesterday’s festivities, come find us on Facebook! www.Facebook.com/WeddingGirl.ca

To see Vanessa’s photos of the celebrations, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

MaryBratko VanessaAdams WeddingGirl.ca Bloggers

{ Blog Credit }

Grand Pride Wedding event design: Luc Samuel Leclerc, Liberty Entertainment Group

Florals: Fuscia Designs

Furniture: Lounge Rentals

Photography: TheWestEndStudio.com

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June 25, 2014

The (outrageous) cost of Wedding Flowers: explained.

…. or, “Why your centerpieces can’t cost $20 per table.”

When we first created WeddingGirl five years ago, the tagline we adopted was “LUXE, ON A BUDGET”

Despite the ever-changing landscape of planning all-things-I-Do, we’ve stuck to it. Moreso now than ever before, we’re getting creative with ways to stretch dollars, skip expenses, and make really smart spending choices all while still making things gorgeous.


We aren’t magic.

We can’t make something from nothing.

We can’t give you Wedluxe-Inspired centerpieces for $20 per table.

… and we mostly can’t bully your florist into doing it for you either.

Once upon a time when we first started planning weddings, much like everything else in North America – things were cheaper. This included vases, flowers, vase filler, candles, gas, donuts, and Starbucks lattés. Unfortunately, it’s how the economy works – prices creep up year after year.

DIY Vintage Rustic Lace Wedding

Some wedding vendors allow you to book services a year in advance and they’re willing to honour 2013 pricing in 2014, etc. but most of the time the same can’t be said for flowers. It’s not because your florists are evil and have some cruel vendetta against your wedding budget. Like those delicate blooms themselves, floral quotes are incredibly sensitive little beings. Here’s why:

1. Time

We all know that time = money.

When you email a floral stylist with all the details of your big day, the clock begins to tick. They’ll read (and undoubtedly love!) your bridal dream gushings, check to make sure they’re available for your wedding date, do some research on your venue and visit all the Pinterest inspiration boards you sent over in your note.

Amrita & Darrel's Inspiration Board

Before your florist can offer a quote, they’ll have to connect with their suppliers and wholesalers to verify availability and pricing. They’ll call around and check to make sure they’re getting the best-of-the-best for you before they respond. They’ll start a preliminary estimate form for you and attach your inspiration photos, your list of must-have’s, and will work out pricing options to make it happen.

Wholesale Toronto Niagara Hamilton North Bay Sudbury Muskoka Glass Wedding Decor Hanging Votive Candle Holder Vases Collage

With preliminary research in hand, your stylist then replies to your message. A great vendor will share in all your excitement and offer advice and suggestions on how to spend your budget, stretch your budget, stay within your budget – whatever it is you’re hoping to do. They’ll chat with you back and forth about vision and ideas and previous weddings so that you know that they know that you know they’re on the same page.

Then there’s the meeting.

Some brides are comfortable working exclusively digitally to review floral design estimates, while others prefer to visit showrooms and floral shops. Depending on the setup of the studio, some will meet with you in-house while others will join you for one of those pricey Starbucks’ latté’s in town. Either way, your florist will spend time preparing for your meeting, a couple of hours chatting all-things-blooms with you over coffee, and then time summarizing all your notes and visions (not to mention the travel time to and from your get-together).

Well-styled and thorough floral estimates can take hours to craft: beautifully worded bridal bouquet descriptions, comprehensive wedding party flower details, family florals, ceremony decor, centerpiece design and reception decor. They’ll search for and include inspiration photos to help give you visuals and work out a variety of prices for extra details like the vases you love and the right candles to give the reception room that enviable, romantic glow.

Toronto Hamilton Niagara Wedding Decor Budget Cheap Wholesale

By the time that floral quote hits your Inbox, your designer has spent well over an entire day’s worth of work on making it perfect for you.

Or, so they hope.

Then there’s revisions.

Little changes.

Different flowers.

Tweaks in colours.

Extra corsages.


Double-faced satin instead of burlap. - need to check on satin pricing.

The silver mercury glass instead of the gold. - need to verify availability.

Hanging mason jars with floating candles to line the garden path after the sun goes down. - measure mason jar opening, determine candle pricing, confirm shepherd hook rentals and verify what time the sun sets.


Updated estimate – complete.

A few final rearrangements and adjustments and one last calculation – then, voila! Your contract is booked.


….. but now, multiply that by a dozen inquiries a week.

Vintage Tea Party Wedding Flowers Fraiche Floral Studio Toronto

If a floral stylist didn’t account for time spent generating quotes and booking contracts, they’d go out of business pretty quickly.

Fast-forward to a few months before your wedding. – Verifying contracts, confirming changes, ordering flowers, ordering vases, picking up vase filler, scratching product stickers off of every single candle holder (sometimes having to soak them in soap and hot water first!). All they need you to do is confirm whether or not your number of tables has changed or whether Aunt Ingrid prefers a pin-on corsage or wrist… while behind-the-scenes there’s a flurry of activity to make sure that all their floral-design-ducks are neatly in a row.

Cue: the week of the wedding.

Confirming order delivery with the wholesalers, picking up the flowers, checking and re-checking to make sure that everything that’s needed is there. Bringing hundreds of dozens of blooms back into the studio – processing every single one of them by hand. (Note: wholesale flowers come straight from farms – usually in foreign countries – packed super tight in refrigerator temperatures so they stay super fresh until well after your wedding is over). Processing means de-thorning roses, trimming leaves off hydrangeas and cutting every single stem on the perfect angle to dip in hydrating fluid and arrange perfectly in oversized buckets in a temp-controlled room so that they open just enough to be gorgeous but not enough that they over-bloom and die before you walk down the aisle.

No pressure.

So then there’s the arranging.

Blue Purple Celestial Inspired Bridal Bouquet fraiche floral 3

A half dozen bouquets, meticulously styled and finished with gorgeous stem wrap to accentuate your dress. A half dozen boutonnieres carefully arranged and finished to match.

Mom’s corsages.

Dad’s boutonnieres.

Oversized altar arrangements, a dozen pew decor pieces. Rose petals for the aisle that need to be plucked from perfectly-processed roses, separated from their seedy, unattractive centers, and stored in refrigerator temperatures to ensure the perfect amount of … perk … when they’re carefully arranged in swirly patterns down your ceremony aisle the next day.

Fraiche Floral Studio Ceremony Decor Toronto Wedding

Centerpieces are often arranged into floral foam and can’t be put together more than a certain number of hours before show time (some flowers really, really don’t like floral foam). Your florist needs to cautiously time out their schedule (as well as the schedules of all their helpers) to make sure that painstakingly specific timing is maintained. What keeps your Florist awake at night? Fear of waking up on the morning of your wedding day, to find four buckets of wilted hydrangeas|roses|peonies  on the studio floor. *knock on wood*

Budget Cheap Wholesale Wedding Flowers Toronto

And then there’s the delivery.

As much as it would be awesome to teleport your flowers from the design floor to the reception hall, unfortunately each individual arrangement needs to be delicately packed, carefully loaded, safely transported, and gingerly placed. The job goes faster with extra sets of hands, but those hands need to get paid for their time as well.

Finally, some venues have pesky delivery requirements: certain times of day, within certain hours, through questionable back doors that require the dismantling of pre-packaged arrangements to fit through the frame. Perch the altar pieces, spread the petals, hang the pew decor, place the centerpieces, arrange the head table arrangements, deliver the girls’ bouquets before scheduled pictures and make sure all of the men’s bouts are pinned properly. -  all in a wedding florist’s day!

Oh. And those rented pillars that you used during your ceremony – they need to be picked up and brought over to your reception, then brought back to the studio at the end of the night.

Sooooo, an hour for research, half hour response, a three hour session, a few hours for changes, another half hour for updates, an hour of phone calls, two days of processing…. well… I mean… you get the picture. Beautiful blooms take time and love to plan, arrange, and make gorgeous on the day-of.

But then there’s the stuff itself…..

Wholesale Flowers Candles Wedding Toronto

2. Stuff

Of course, you have to pay for the stuff you buy.

Yup – seasonal flowers are usually cheaper than imports, and buying local is usually cheaper than foreign…. but supply-and-demand is an illustrious minx.

Dreaming of red roses around Valentine’s Day?

Looking for pretty much anything white around Easter?

The prices of flowers per stem, even at direct wholesale, fluctuate with the tide (pretty much literally) – ranging anywhere from $0.50 to over $20.00 (yup. per stem).

Floral prices are affected by climate, rainfall, minimum wage, and even the price of gas used to transport them.

Then there’s the other stuff – vases, candles, mirrors, cellophane, vase filler, ribbon. Not only does your floral stylist need to cover his / her costs on acquiring these items, they need to cover the time it takes to get them from straight-from-China condition to perfect-picture-ready.

 Ruffles and Twine Vintage Dresser Rental Niagara


{ the low-down }

All of this to say….. “this stuff ain’t cheap”.

Unfortunately, flowers don’t cost pennies-a-stem.

Sadly, those beautiful 24″ reversible trumpet vases you saw online last week aren’t available at the Dollar Store.

A floral designer that knows (and loves) his/her industry can offer you oodles of options – believe me – they all want to see their lovelies gracing the pages of all-things-inspiration…..

But they need to eat.

And pay their rent.

And make sure their water doesn’t get shut off the day before your wedding.

This is why centerpieces aren’t $20 per table.

It’s why wedding flowers have pricetags and why the brag-worthy styles that grace magazine covers seem to be “outrageous”.

It’s why, when your floral designer tells you they can’t lower their prices anymore… they’re probably not lying.

Be creative.

Be excited.

Be willing to trust your expert.

Be sure of what you like, but be open to suggestions.

Be honest about your budget.

Be amenable to money-saving ideas that a great florist should always offer you.


fraiche floral studio vintage rose bridal bouquet

….. Stay gorgeous.



{ blog love }

Photog Credits:

Darling Mine Photography

Silverlight Photography

Holly Thomas Photography

mINK Creative Photography

Taylor Jackson Photography


Floral Credits:

Fraîche Floral Studio

Fleurish Design Studio

Lush Design Studio




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June 24, 2014

How to Plan Your Own Wedding Bar :: DIY Wedding Alcohol Planner

{ DIY Wedding Planning }

Wedding Day Fund Mason Jar


Brides are getting smarter.

Budgets are getting tighter.

Many of the weddings we’re planning are opting to skip out on the all-inclusive one-size-fits-bride venues and couples are dancing the night away in what we refer to DIY Venues.

These often-hidden-gem spaces  are reception locations that charge couples a flat rental fee for use of their space (sometimes unreasonably affordable – other times.. not so much), and the Bride and Groom are then responsible for bringing in their own rentals, decor, catering, alcohol, etc.

While DIY venues are (mostly always) the more cost-effective wedding option, they are, undoubtedly, much trickier to plan.

DIY venues usually require you to consider bringing in your own tables, chairs, flatware, stemware, tableware, to make your own catering arrangements, and most importantly, to plan your own bar.

It seems ironic to us as wedding planners that the elements of your big day meant to save you the most money tend to be trickiest to plan!

No worries, though. We’ve got you covered.

{ planning your DIY bar }

Note: Every wedding is different.

Depending on the type of guests you invite (older vs. younger, drinkers vs. not), some weddings will boast a much heavier alcohol consumption than others.

Details of your particular big will also play a role in alcohol consumption: time of day, length of cocktail hour and dinner, availability of shots and varieties of liquor / mix on your bar rail.

We’re basing these particular nuggets of wedding-planning knowledge on the average event.

So, as we were….


{ insider insight }

Between our own (extensive) experience at the weddings we’ve planned, and with the expert advice of a few trusted industry insiders….here’s what you need to know:

1) The average wedding guest will consume one alcoholic drink per hour throughout the wedding

So. 5 to 7 drinks per person for the night, plus two glasses of wine at dinner.

Got it.


2) More specifically put, the average wedding guest will usually drink 2 drinks during cocktails, 2 drinks during dinner, 2 drinks while they’re dancing, and 2 drinks in the last couple hours of the night (this includes shots).

Therefore, if you’re looking to tighten the reigns on alcohol consumption we usually suggest limiting the availability of shots, slowing the bar toward the end of the night, and serving exclusively signature beverages during cocktail hour.



3) Liquor is the most widely consumed alcohol at the average wedding (particularly in the form of shots).

Wine comes in second (and is typically the drink of choice during dinner).

Beer comes last.


4) Red wine is FAR more popular than white wine (usually at a service ratio of 2:1)

If you’re offering wine to your guests during dinner, ask your servers to come around with a “First Pour” rather than opening a bottle of red and a bottle of white on each table. This allows guests to choose their preferred wine at the onset of the meal and servers can be instructed to provide bottles to tables if explicitly requested.

Oh – and it looks classier too!

As has been the case with nearly every wedding we’ve coordinated, more often than not we see whole bottles of white wine go entirely to waste.



5) If Premium and Import beers are offered, they are usually consumed at a substantially higher rate than any Domestic labels.

Plan accordingly.


6) The most popular liquors consumed at a wedding, in order of popularity, are: Vodka, Gin, Rye, Tequila, Rum, Scotch, Amaretto, and Apple + Raspberry Sours.


7) The most popular mixes, in order of popularity, are: Club Soda, Tonic, Cranberry juice, Coca Cola, and Clamato juice.


8) Signature drinks are surprisingly unpopular.

Yes, they look super cute with their colour-coordination and themed straws with personalized flags… but guests will drink signature cocktails only because they’re offered (usually in the proximity of white-gloved servers passing around shiny silver trays).

Once the bar opens and guests can order what they want, the hefty majority stay lightyears away from colourful and fruity drinks.

Skip the drink flags.



{ wedding Signature drinks }

But so long as we’re on the topic of the oh-so-popular signature cocktails… there are ways to plan these so they don’t suck!

As wedding planners – we actually love the personality and creativity that goes into signature drinks…- don’t let us discourage you from the idea entirely – just make sure to choose a drink that tastes good (and isn’t just mixed to be electric yellow so that it matches your 70′s wedding theme).

Most of the signature drink rave reviews we hear involve refreshing, subtle blends like champagne spritzers and light sangrias (think bubbles + white cranberry juice adorned with a berry or two at the bottom of the glass).

Kir seems to be popular too – black current liqueur topped up with white wine (a touch heavier than sparkling + juice – a more popular option for Fall and Winter affairs).

Some of our couples are opting for a choice of drinks: Moosehead for him, Apple Pie Martinis for her.

A handful of skillful (and passionate!) bartenders are even willing to take a couples’ favourite flavours and custom-design a concoction from scratch – so get creative!


Of course, cocktail hour drinks that suit the style and theme of your wedding are always classic (assuming they’re tasty too!).

Chilly autumn weddings are complemented nicely with hot apple cider and rum, while sunshine-y summer wedding guests appreciate ice-cold sparkling numbers and flavour infused waters (even if they’re non-alcoholic!).

DIY Wedding Bar Infused Water Jenn Sean

Cocktails that come with a custom-story are always a big hit too…

“The Bride celebrated her acceptance to medical school with one too many margaritas!”


“The Groom’s been known to get messy with martinis!”


{ a few tips }

Regardless of whether you’re planning an open bar all-day-long, or signature cocktails followed by dinner wine and dancing – alcohol is meant to enhance your celebration, not overshadow it.

Guests are encouraged to have a great time but over-indulging often leads to embarrassing moments and constraining conflicts that nobody (your coordinators included!) should have to deal with.

Take your guest demographic into consideration when selecting your alcohol line-up.

Make sure to overstock (liquor in Ontario can always be returned to the LCBO with a receipt!).

Keep all of your proofs of purchase (event alcohol must be purchased with a valid Special Occasions Permit – which must be clearly displayed behind the bar before the first drink is poured).


{ extra help }

We know that planning a DIY wedding can be stressful and overwhelming, but if envisioned properly and executed seamlessly, it can help save you thousands of dollars!

Our WeddingGirl team offers Reception-Planning consultations for DIY Brides to help ensure that no dishes go overlooked, no water jugs un-ordered, and that alcohol service goes off without a hitch.

Make sure to Get In Touch with any questions you might have!

Little Black Dress Photoshoot Palais Royale


Much love,

the WG team <3


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we believe in #OneLove | @WP14TO @WedGirlEquals

{ why we believe that #LoveIsLove }

Not everyone meets their soulmate.

Not everyone gets butterflies.

Not everyone writes a story that includes the fairytale version of happily ever after.

Falling in love is hard enough – why make it more difficult by eliminating half of the planet’s population from your options??




Toronto and cities around the world are celebrating World Pride.

All of us here at WeddingGirl are just celebrating being in love.

How lucky we are to live in a city that emphatically, openly, and graciously accepts that love is never wrong.



Sure, #SameLove isn’t what’s always been the “norm”… but our grandparents would have looked strange with white earphone cables dangling on either side of their faces too.

Yeah, #LGBTlove is considered a travesty in certain religions and illegal in many countries…. but by those standards, do vegans have to fast on Fridays and should wearing a headscarf be outlawed as well?

Times are changing.

People are changing.

Shame on our ancestors for scoffing at all that was “different”.  Our world is evolving into the most connected, the most advanced, and the most open-minded it’s ever been. I bet those of us who are left-handed would agree!




One planet.

One population.

One common goal of happiness.

One love.

That’s what we believe.

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June 23, 2014

Business vs. Brand | Getting Brides to Love You


{ a WG industry insider Interactive }

WeddingGirl University Logo

“The wedding industry isn’t what it used to be. We hear it constantly… wedding vendors are struggling.”

At a time when brides are getting smarter and budgets are getting tighter, successful business owners know the secrets to getting noticed while their competitors end up getting lost in a sea of discount services and all-things-DIY.

If you’re as obsessed with celebrating couples-in-love as we are, you already know about the incredible rewards this industry can deliver. While you might have started your business just as a hobby or side-passion, there’s ways to turn it into your entire life – this girl is living proof.

In the past 5 years Mary Bratko of WeddingGirl.ca has planned hundreds of weddings and has been decoding the inner workings of the bridal mind.


With a little bit of tough love and a whole lot of hard work, Mary knows that you can take your business from your spare bedroom to around the world, like she has.



Join her for this engaging Interactive and learn everything from where you should be spending marketing dollars to why that bride didn’t hire you. Participate in an afternoon of creative connections, branding strategies, blogging how-to’s, sales pitch secrets and the one thing you can do to make sure all of your clients tell all of their friends about you!



{ the Details }

Date: August 24, 2014

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Location: announced to attendees upon registration.

Cost: $119.00 + HST

Currently 15 spots available. Registration Application Forms are available by exclusively by email {info@weddinggirl.ca}

Suggested reading: The WG Story (discount code available for all registrants)

The WG Story - Cover

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June 22, 2014

Eilish Palmer | Arkansas Wedding Photographer

{ Arkansas believes that #LoveIsLove … }

On May 9th, 2014, something amazing happened in Arkansas: a state judge ruled the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

Arkansas Heart State Necklace

The ruling was made late on Friday afternoon, and it was expected that dozens of LGBT couples would arrive at the courthouse on Monday morning to be lawfully wed – and arrive they did!

Among the couples that piled into the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock, strolled in Eilish Palmer of Lady With A Camera Photography. She walked in carrying two cameras… and this sign:

Eilish Palmer Lady With A Camera Arkansas

“It was just automatic that that is what I was going to go do.” – she said.

Palmer figured that when the state judge struck down the same-sex marriage band early on Friday evening, the court would start issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples first thing on Monday. Recognizing that the majority of these couples wouldn’t have had the privilege of planning a wedding, Eilish felt it was important that they had photos of this historical moment and their once-in-a-lifetime loves.

She took all of the photos for free.

“I feel strongly about marriage equality. I always have.”

By the time the Courthouse closed that Monday afternoon, 169 marriage licenses had been issued and Eilish shot for six hours without stop – over 64gb of images!


“These girls were old enough to know that their moms were getting married and were so happy…” – even the clergyman could feel the emotion.

Eilish’s photographic talent (seen across her Facebook page) is undeniable, and her heart is clearly bursting at the seams. The world is a better place because of wedding vendors who believe that love is love, and that love is never wrong.

From all of us here at WeddingGirl to both Eilish and to all the couples she photographed -



If you or a wedding vendor you know agrees with us that two suits, or two dress – but still one love – please make sure to get in touch for a chance to have your story featured on the WeddingGirl.ca blog!WG= Logo

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Two Girls. Two Dresses. One Love. | #LoveIsLove

{ When Briar met Amanda… }

LGBT Wedding Two Brides Toronto Planners

:: the First Meet

Briar and Amanda met in 2009 through a mutual friend. Their connection was instantaneous and the rest is history!

:: the Big Question

Amanda proposed to Briar one evening in February of 2012. She surprised her with a card saying they were going on an adventure back in time, and re-created some of their favourite memories all around their home. Each memory ‘station’ had an envelope that lead to the next. 
“We initially met over a game of pool so the first visit down memory lane was over a game of ‘table top pool’ and beer. From there we continued on to have a drink inside our tent in the living room, play some NHL hockey on the Xbox, enjoyed some beer and wings and played a great game of 20 questions (at this point we clearly had all the answers!).”
Briar thought the end of the evening was over when Amanda gave her the last envelope and proposed to her with a ring pop!
“To this day she lies to me and says she was surprised when the real ring came later!”

:: the Planning

“That’s when the real fun began…the planning!!” – the Newlyweds tell us.
They chose a date that was 18 months after the proposal.
“We wanted ample time to get ourselves organized and create some fun DYI projects”.

Before their engagement, Amanda and Briar would spend hours hiking in Balls Falls Conversation Area, so it didn’t take the two girls long to decide they wanted to get married in its gorgeous, quaint chapel and have a rustic barn wedding reception.


Rainbow Bridesmaid Dresses LGBT Lesbian Wedding Planners Toronto









“We carefully and lovingly selected each and every one of our wedding vendors by hand”.

 Judith Twells officiated the girls’ ceremony - “and she was absolutely amazing! It was intimate, personal, and loving.”

“Our photographer, Joel Hannigan was an absolute no-brainer.”

In her own words, Amanda had been creeping Joel’s work for many months before she proposed – “and knew I would do anything to have him capture our wedding! It certainly paid off! Huge shout out to Joel and his second shooter Eva Derrick.”

Kelly and Stacy from Ooh La La Designs created the Brides’ beautiful floral arrangements.

“We had a lot of small details that represented us both, right down to the hockey jersey table numbers and Briar’s running shoes. We wanted to make it unique with our own personal creations. We literally made everything that was there (table numbers, banners, chalk boards, centre pieces, etc.). The day of the wedding, Amanda’s Aunt Leslie took all of the DYI items and decorated the barn from floor to ceiling (incl. lights, lanterns, tulle, etc.). She executed our vision perfectly!”

Bridal Gowns + Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal, Canada

Catering: Kent Heritage Farms

Food Truck: Thunderin’ Thelma | Caplansky’s Deli




All of us here at WeddingGirl.ca believe that #LoveIsLove and that #LoveIsNeverWrong.

To feature your #SameLove wedding on our blog, or to feature your Community-Friendly wedding business, please make sure to Get In Touch!

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June 21, 2014

Pride Month Weddings | @WP14TO | #LoveIsLove

{ WG Supports #SameLove }

By: Vanessa Adams

Vanessa Adams LGBTQ Wedding Planner Toronto WeddingGirl.ca

June has traditionally been the single most popular month for weddings in North America. Trees are lush, flowers in bloom, and the beautiful summer sunshine provides a gorgeous backdrop for photos.

While brides and grooms celebrate June “I Do”‘s, the LGBTQ community acknowledges a more historical celebration – the privilege of celebrating who you are, who you love, and the opportunity to openly express orientation free of judgment and discrimination.


To the Community, June represents the riots of Stonewall 1969 and the last weekend in June is recognized as a “holy” time in remembrance of those who fought before.

When I first started my blogging journey a few years ago, I wanted to visit the Stonewall Inn and pay my respects to those that fought in the famous riots for LGBT equality. My global #LoveIsLove journey started in this exact spot and so many magical things have unfolded since then.


To honour the culture and history of what the month of June represents, LGBT couples often incorporate symbolic elements into their wedding day celebrations – rainbow details to represent the community as a whole, or pink details to represent lesbian love. (Pink is deeply rooted in the lesbian community as Holocaust prisoners identified as lesbian were brought to segregated camps and a pink triangle was sewn to their garments).

Looking for understated and elegant ways to acknowledge the community in your big day? Consider rainbow wine charm guest favours, or hand-stamped initials to wrap into bouquet stem wrap.

Rainbow Charm LGBT Wedding Favours

Or have the team over at the Fraîche Floral Studio custom-design a floral style that reflects your #SameLove love story.

LGBTQ Wedding Flowers Rainbow Bouquet Fraiche Floral Studio

The ideas for #LoveIsLove wedding day creativity are endless. To plan yours, make sure to Get In Touch!

~ sparkles + rainbows ~



Vanessa is a Toronto-based Wedding Planner, Destination Wedding Expert, Travel Writer, and Content Strategist for WeddingGirl-Equals. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up-to-date on all her adventures!

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June 20, 2014

WeddingGirl.ca supports @WP14TO | #LoveIsLove

WG= Logo

We believe in being in love.

We believe in two suits, two dresses, one love.

We believe in equality.

When Vanessa joined our team and made us realize that there are still so many countries around the world, and so many vendors in our own city, who don’t recognize same-sex unions, we knew it would become our mission to change this… on however a small scale we can make a difference.

Toronto Gay Lesbian Wedding Planners

We believe in standing up for those that deserve to celebrate the most beautiful feeling in the world openly, safely, and without judgment.

We believe that love is never wrong.

Today, our amazing city of Toronto welcomes the launch of World Pride 2014, and we couldn’t be more proud to celebrate alongside those who have come from near and far to show their support.

The landscape of weddings is changing, but being in love will never go out of style. If you, or someone you know, has a #SameLove love story worth sharing, please Get In Touch! We would be honoured to feature you on our blog. (The same goes for vendors open to same-sex unions! Send us a note and let us know why this cause is important to you!)

Together, we’re changing the world.

Don’t stop dreaming, and never, ever, stop loving.

WG= FB Cover V6

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June 19, 2014

How Pinterest is Ruining Weddings

{ … and why Wedding Planners love|hate it }

 PInterest Single Girl Wedding

A bride said to us the other day, “I can’t compete with all of the perfection on Pinterest anymore.”

… and our hearts broke for her.


If you’re the 0.067% of the female population who doesn’t / hasn’t / won’t use Pinterest to plan her wedding (both real and/or imaginary) then 1. Kudos to you and 2. You should probably skip this blog.

(for the record, I did make that statistic up… but it may as well be true).

Whenever we get emails from newly engaged girls inquiring about wedding planning services, the first thing we often receive in response to questions about Big Day dreams is a URL to a (usually secret) Pinterest board labeled something along the lines of “I Do” or “Blushing Bride” or “Happily Ever After”.

Okay, okay. So maybe hating Pinterest is a bit rash…. but here are three reasons why Pinterest-Planning is ruining weddings everywhere.


1. Copy + Paste

Sure,  these online digital inspiration boards are a pretty awesome way of getting a sense of what you love and what you hate and what you absolutely HAVE TO HAVE on your wedding day… but, much to the disappointment of creative wedding vendors everywhere, most of what Brides-To-Be are pinning on Pinterest these days seems to be the exact same thing.

If you’ve scoured “Wedding Pins” online, you know exactly what we mean.

It seems that unless you’re getting married at magic hour in an oversized rustic barn surrounded by endless fields of tall grasses and dotted with colourful vintage bottles spilling over with wildflower arrangements among mason jar candles accented with twine, lace, and lavender bundles –  you’re apparently doing it wrong.

Everything is wrapped with burlap.

Every wedding boasts vintage furniture with distressed paint.

Every bridal bouquet is an over-the-top, meticulously crafted, couture concoction of a precise number of succulents (in varying shades of minty green), cottage roses, peonies, (mostly impossible to get) anemones, and random sprigs of wildflower-inspired (almost weed-like) blooms that a seriously stylish floral designer was able to tie together and accent with a vintage locket to make it “yours”.

Every bride is wrapped in the arms of her handsome groom while sun rays bend and dance and create whimsical lens flares for the photographer.

Each reception showcases the now-obligatory cake-replacing cutting tier surrounded by a sea of cupcakes (half clearly demarcated as gluten-free via stylish little themed flags carefully glued to tiny toothpicks).

With every new bride who contacts us, our hearts break a little when she shows us a photo of someone else’s gorgeous nuptials saying, ‘I want this.”

Wedding Vendors everywhere have been forced to swallow their creative juices and instead are being asked to recreate the same cakes, the same flowers, and even the same photographic frames that someone else has already done for their big day.

“…. Ummm. Sure. I can recreate that same cake I did for that other bride for that wedding last year……. again.”

Luvvly Cake Co Burlap Lace Mint Green Wedding Cake


2. DIY-Dreaming

Nothing is more frustrating to a wedding planner than when a bride shows us a photo of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ “DIY-inspired” rustic barn wedding and asks us to recreate it on a budget. Yup, our WG team  can do absolutely brilliant things on a shoestring budget… but unfortunately we don’t usually have the resources to hire an army of 50 (no joke) Martha Stewart wedding coordinators to help pull off that “We just did this ourselves this morning” look.

Pinterest is leading modern-day, budget-savvy brides to believe that Do-It-Yourself EVERYTHING is the way to go – that a leisurely walk through the woods will suffice in collecting perfectly round wood slab chargers, that a stroll along the shoreline will provide perfect oversized pieces of driftwood from which to construct a ceremony arch, and that centerpiece flowers can be plucked from alongside any interstate roadway the morning of your wedding.

Pinterest has this bittersweet way of showcasing the best-of-the-best of what WeddingLand has to offer a Nearlywed couple without the necessary price tags attached to it (and remember, cost refers to time and money).

We wish Pinterest photo captions read more like:

“These hand-stamped, colour-coordinated fabric flower escort cards were the reason I missed three weekends at the cottage last summer.”


“This airy, fairy, whimsical bouquet cost more than all of my wedding day jewelry.”

Eco Rustic Shabby Natural Bride Succulent Bouquet Kristen Pete Fraiche Studio

It breaks our hearts to have to tell a bride on a budget that the centerpiece she loves-loves-loves on Pinterest can’t be arranged for less than $6 per table, or that those sheer, romantic  barn door drapes are going to cost hundreds of dollars to install and dismantle.

No, unfortunately we can’t just go to Ikea and buy a lot of sheer curtains and staple them up ourselves.

Believe us – we love, love, love those designs as much as you do…. but as wedding professionals we know the realities of them - the truths that Pinterest wedding boards keep tucked away in their secret digital vaults.


3. The cold, hard, truths.

“I can’t compete with all of the perfection on Pinterest anymore.”


And therein lies the issue of everything that’s wrong with planning a wedding today.

It’s become a competition and brides are allowing their weddings to get bigger than the love they’re supposed to be celebrating.

Like Carrie Bradshaw said, “I let the wedding get bigger than Big.”


Shows like “Say Yes To The Dress” and “Four Weddings” pit Bride against Bride to see who can spend more, plan better, and out-wow each other’s guests.

Those Pinterest bouquets you’ve pinned and loved are the top tier, upper echelon, best-of-the-best bridal bouquets around the world.

Those Pinterest wedding designs are the products of some of the most crafty, creative, affluent bridal dreams on over-the-top budgets.

Those ethereal, whimsical, super-romantic shots with the sunlight refracting into the photographer’s lens are sometimes more the result of right-place-at-the-right-time (with the right weather conditions) than of meticulous itinerary planning.

St. Catharines Toronto Wedding Planner Yellow Green Gray White Vintage Shabby Chic Wedding Wendy Alana Photography Chateau Des Charmes Vineyard Winery Wedding Ceremony Decor


Here’s the thing, Ladies.

Your guests won’t scoff at your wedding day if they’re not dancing the night away in an oversized, rustic barn in the middle of a field of wildflowers.

We promise that no one will be offended that it wasn’t a hand-written, wax-sealed, lace-embossed escort card that directed them to their seat that night.

And even if it rains, your photos will still be gorgeous.

Yup. Pinterest weddings are stunning. Absolutely. We completely agree that the whimsy and the magic and the soft hues and the vintage furniture are all crazy-beautiful. But contrary to mainstream wedding-media belief, these aren’t the only options to having a picture-perfect celebration.

Bright, bold, contemporary photography can be equally as stunning as faded, vintage edits.

Weddings in oversized airport hangars and market squares can be just as much a party as those in barns and fields of flowers.

And, we pinky-swear, if you entrust your tried, trusted, and true wedding vendors with your personality, designs, and inspirational visions, they’ll help you create a wedding day that’s unique, creative, and better than anything you’ve seen on Pinterest. Promise.

It’s not a competition.

It’s about a once-in-a-lifetime celebration to honour your once-in-a-lifetime love.

So how about your skip hand-tying twine to eight dozen escort cards and take your fiancé on a roadtrip instead?

Rather than toiling over hand-stamped favour tags, treat your bridesmaids to an afternoon of gossip and sangria on a patio.

Forego the elaborate vintage furniture rentals and splurge on your favourite bottle of champagne to drink on your one-month Wediversary – just because.

As one of our past WG brides so cleverly put it…

“At the end of the [big] day, it’s not the escort cards, flowers, or decor that you remember or care about — it’s how you felt while celebrating your love. Pinterest can’t prepare you for that so plan what you want, spend what you can, and then enjoy every minute of what you’ve created for yourselves and your guests. It ain’t rocket science and it ain’t a competition — it’s a party.”

And if you’re going to scour the pages of Pinterest leading up to your Big Day, spend more time reading about how to kiss longer, love harder, and live an epic life together… because ultimately, that’s what Happily Ever After is about.



- Photo courtesy of Pinterest. <3



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