Archive for August, 2011

{ jen + colum }

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 | testimonials | No Comments

We received this lovely thank you note from Jennifer + Colum today.


“Dear Lisa,

Colum & I can’t thank you enough for your guidance + patience throughout the entire planning process.

Very Best,

Jen & Colum”

You’re so welcome! It was such a pleasure working with you…all the best! xoLisa.

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{ ask the expert }

Thursday, August 4th, 2011 | etiquette, media, Q&A | No Comments

Originally published in Weddings in Alberta Magazine, August 2011.


We have a lot of guests traveling from out of town for our wedding. What are we expected to pay for? How involved should we be in the planning of their stay?
Some couples make the decision to factor their out-of-town guests’ hotel rooms into their budget (or all of their guests’ rooms if they’ve chosen an out-of-town venue), but for the vast majority of couples, this is not common. You should absolutely arrange for a block of rooms with a good room rate at one or more hotels, but you are not obligated to pay for their rooms.

You should also put some time and effort into making your out-of-town guests feel welcome: provide a list of suggested of activities in town, perhaps a welcome bag for their hotel rooms (even something as simple as a bottle of water, snacks and a little note is always very much appreciated), and if possible, invite your out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner and/or the day-after brunch.

We are not having a wedding party for our very intimate day. What should we do with the rings and who should hold my bouquet during the ceremony?
Intimate weddings are just lovely—there’s no need to worry about not having a wedding party. Your officiant can take your bouquet from you at the appropriate moment and set it down on the altar or signing table and you can retrieve it after you’ve done the signing so you’ll have it for your recessional back down the aisle. As for the rings, you have a couple of choices: either give them to the officiant before the ceremony or your fiancé can put them both in his pocket and hand them to the officiant during the ceremony.

We’ve had a major misunderstanding with our caterer, and now they are no longer in our budget. What do we do?
First, check your contract to see if your deposit is refundable or if it is even possible to cancel your contract (this usually depends on the amount of time until your date: is your wedding still a year away or is it next weekend? Typically the nearer your date, the less flexibility you’re going to have in the contract). If there’s no time to find another caterer or if you’re locked into your contract (or you can’t afford to give up your deposit), you’ll need to take a deep breath and adjust the vision for your reception.

Perhaps you can eliminate a course (or two) to get the costs back in your budget range. If it really was a major misunderstanding and it is not feasible to hire another caterer to take over, you might need to go so far as changing your reception from a sit-down dinner to a cocktail reception. If you do change from a sit-down to a cocktail reception, make sure to alter the start time of your reception so your guests won’t be expecting a full meal.

If you are able to get your deposit back and get out of your contract with your caterer, find your way to a more affordable caterer (ask your other vendors and talk to other brides for recommendations), but make sure to do a tasting and be very clear about your expectations and compare it to what they’re able to deliver before you commit to anything.

If none of these options is viable, you really only have one other alternative (if your invitations haven’t gone out yet): you’ll have to cut your guest list to a number that will make your caterer fit in your budget. This can be difficult and fraught with familial discord, but you need to pick an option that won’t break the budget while still allowing you to enjoy your big day. Whatever you decide…good luck and bon appetit!

We’re not sure if we want to do a cake cutting and all that goes with it. Why do couples cut the cake and feed it to each other?
The wedding cake dates back to Roman times when the cake was actually part of the ceremony. The customs and symbolism surrounding the wedding cake have morphed—sometimes rather unpleasantly (breaking the cake over the brides head anyone?)—over the years, but now the cutting of the cake symbolizes the first task the bride and groom complete as a married couple.

Many couples include the cake cutting purely for the photo op and the enjoyment of their guests. It’s always a favorite moment for guests to take a pic of the happy couple. Feel free to skip the “feed it to each other” part unless you have a burning desire to do so. Have your photographer or planner tell you the best angle for your photo op: both of you hold the handle of the knife and make a cut in the bottom or middle layer. When you’ve completed the cut, keep your hands on the knife, look up and smile—you’ll probably need to hold the pose for several minutes while all the guests get their photos.

Even if you plan to have cupcakes or macarons instead of a cake, it’s nice to have a small cake so you can make the ceremonial cut. However, there’s no reason you have to have a wedding cake at all – perhaps your venue is known for a particularly fabulous type of dessert which you’d rather serve your guests. But if you do decide to have the wedding cake your guests will expect you to cut it…let them cut cake!

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balancing the wedding budget with etiquette

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 | etiquette, media, Q&A | No Comments

Personal Finance
Balancing the wedding budget with etiquette
Roma Luciw
From Monday’s Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jul. 31, 2011

When Laura Helm gets married this fall, she plans to do it all for under $5,000.
The 45-year-old Oshawa bride is tying the knot in front of 65 people on a Friday that falls on Remembrance Day, which made the venue and caterer cheaper. The guest list is mostly family, and single people were not asked to bring a date.
“We want to get married. We just don’t want to spend a fortune doing it,” says Ms. Helm, especially since it is the second marriage for each of them.
To cover their alcohol costs, they will have a “toonie bar” – where guests pay $2 for their drinks while the couple pays for the rest.
Lisa Hanslip of the Wedding Planner Inc. in Calgary says that while she encourages couples to have a budget, adhering to proper wedding etiquette is equally important.
For instance, keeping the guest list down by inviting people without kids or dates is completely acceptable, but she discourages couples from having a cash bar.
Ms. Hanslip offers these financial tips for people planning or attending a wedding this summer:
Gift: Cash or flatware?
While it is acceptable for guests to give money as a wedding present, it is definitely not all right for the bride and groom to ask for it. For instance, mentioning in the invitation where you are registered or that you are interested in getting cash is considered gauche. It’s the job of the bridal party and close family to disseminate information about gift-registries, etc., but only if the guests ask. Ultimately, guests are free to buy whatever gift they want.
How much should you spend?
This depends on two things: how well you know the couple and your financial circumstances. While it also depends on what part of the country you’re in, $50 to $150 per guest is a good range. If a couple registers, they should have items at many price points – no one wants to spend $200 on one silver teaspoon.
Can you ask the parents to kick in?
It’s definitely acceptable to ask parents for money to help with the wedding. Remember: If you’re going to ask for a monetary contribution, be prepared to receive their input.
Can I do a wedding brunch?
You can sometimes get a more affordable venue by opting for a non-Saturday wedding. A Sunday brunch can be lovely – and save you a fortune on alcohol.
Is it all right to have a cash bar?
If you can’t afford to feed and serve drinks to all of your guests, you are inviting too many people. If you absolutely must have a cash bar, opt for a toonie bar after dinner so your guests will still feel like guests and can opt to leave after dinner before they’ll need to fish out their wallets.
Can we invite singles without a date?
If you are having a small or medium-sized wedding, it is absolutely fine to invite singles without a date. In fact, trimming your guest list is the best way to keep your budget in check. Kids are not invited, unless they’re specifically mentioned on the invitation. As a guest, you should respect the couple’s wishes for an elegant soiree sans children and get a babysitter.
Are gifts for guests necessary?
A small take-home gift from the bride and groom is increasingly the norm, but it certainly isn’t a requirement. The cutesy little favours are almost always a waste of money – less than half usually even leave the reception site, and most end up in the trash the next day. Some couples are now replacing the favour with a charitable donation.
Do bridesmaids’ dresses have to match?
If your bridesmaids are paying for their dresses, you must keep their financial circumstances in mind. Consider deciding on a colour and length and then letting them choose their own dresses – they are less likely to resent paying for them, and they are more likely to wear the dresses again. Agreeing to be part of a wedding party can be a huge financial burden. The cost of a stagette, a shower gift, a wedding gift and the wedding-day outfit can quickly add up.

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