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Maureen Scott

Considering it takes between 100 to 250 hours to plan a wedding, that in itself may be reason enough to have a wedding planner on speed dial.

“With everyone trying to battle the life/work balance, a wedding can take on a life of its own. Having a professional wedding planner can give back some of the gift of time, alleviate a lot of stress and take the guess work out of planning a wedding” says Alicia Seifert, Owner of Trinity Divine Consulting in Mississauga.

Alicia has been a professional wedding planner since 2006, certified with The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (WPIC). “We see the couple’s vision and then recommend vendors who best suit their needs and then help the couples stay within their budget. There are lots of bright lights when it comes to weddings and a couple may say they want this or they want that, but we help bring the focus back to make sure they get some of the things they want to make their wedding special and show their personality.”

According to the WPIC website and a survey done by Weddingbells Marriage Quebec, one in five couples hire a wedding planner. Planning comes with several options - full fledged wedding planning or hiring a planner to assist with certain aspects of the wedding, such as the ceremony or the reception.

“The number one reason to hire a wedding coordinator is to ensure things go the way they were planned,” says Tracey Manailescu, co-founder of WPIC and owner of Tracey M. Events. “A wedding coordinator should be able to problem solve most things leading up to and on the wedding day, and help the couple stay within a set budget, help manage the day with vendors and the venue, and stay on schedule with the timeline.”

Tracey says the ideal time to book the services of a wedding coordinator is a year prior to the wedding. “It depends on the date of the wedding and it depends on the location of choice. Some venues are booked two to three years in advance. A good wedding coordinator should be able to give you some options for hidden gems that would be comparable or even better.”

Danielle Andrews Sunkel is Tracey’s business partner and co-founder of WPIC, the only institute in Canada licensed to certify wedding coordinators, of which there are now 4,200 around the world. “There is peace of mind in knowing there is a governing body to oversee and regulate WPIC alumni in the wedding industry.”

How much does a wedding planner cost? “Wedding planners charge by various methods. It can be percentage or flat fee based, depending on the services offered,” explains Tracey. “There are industry standards within WPIC that ensure coordinators are getting paid what they are worth as the minimum guidelines.” Danielle adds.

“A wedding planner hired to coordinate the entire wedding will cost about 10 to 15% of the wedding budget. The average wedding in Canada costs $25,000 to $27,000. This includes the ceremony and reception costs, flowers, venues, transportation, planner, photographer, music, decor, meal, alcohol, etc.”

Wedding planners get some unusual requests from the bride and groom, says Danielle, “We've had two people asked to coordinate nude weddings and the wedding planner was required to be nude as well. I have planned two weddings at Canada’s Wonderland - one was my own!”

One in five weddings are destination weddings, according to Danielle. WPIC offers a Destination Wedding Certification Course. “If the client wants the planner on-site, they will go ahead of the wedding party to secure everything before the couple arrive,” says Danielle. “The clients are responsible for paying all travel costs for the planner on top of their regular fee. It is important that a Destination Planner is aware of the laws, legalities and intricacies of planning a wedding in another country. We also arrange familiarization trips for our planners so they can become familiar with the locations and resorts. That way they are able to speak and suggest from experience.”

Other trends - weddings held in farmer’s fields, barn weddings, lakeside weddings or backyard weddings. “Always have a back-up plan in case of inclement weather and special circumstances such as lighting and plumbing,” advices Tracey. “Permits, catering requirements, rentals of generators, tents and washrooms, must be considered. I coordinated two weddings on boats and we needed to have the water taxis available to pick up the wedding officiate and a few guests.”

Wedding planning can jangle the nerves, but Tracey says it's part of a wedding coordinators job to keep things on an even keel. “Really, there are no bride-zilla’s” reassures Tracey. “There is a ton of stress and emotions involved in a wedding and good communication is the key. Keeping within budget and on schedule really helps to keep things under control and alleviates the feeling of being overwhelmed.”

Diane Almeida is a WPIC certified wedding planner with The Mississaugua Golf & Country Club. “As a benefit to our members, we offer complimentary wedding planning service to members having weddings on-site,” says Diane. “I start by asking a bride to create a vision board of what their dream wedding would look like. Brides want lots of things, but we try to choose the three most important things and then make sure we get those, and still stay within their budget. We are seeing trends like food stations and interactive appetizers with pipettes (a syringe type tube filled with yummy sauce you squeeze on to food). It’s about incorporating the personality of the couple without going overboard.”

Certified WPIC planners can be found at The next WPIC Wedding Coordinator Certification Course will be held on March 23 and 24 at The University of Toronto Mississauga. The cost of the course is $799, including two days of intensive study (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.), followed by two weeks of home study and a final exam. GL



"The number one reason to hire a wedding coordinator is to ensure
things go the way they were planned,” says Tracey Manailescu,
co-founder of WPIC and owner of Tracey M. Events


story Debbie Bruce

A very refreshing wedding trend showing up in 2013 is the popularity of a more stripped-back and casual affair. “As part of the initial meeting with our clients, one of the first questions we ask is about the vision they have for their wedding day,” says Holly Carney, owner of Holly Matrimony Weddings (

“What I’m finding more and more is the desire to have a fun and relaxed wedding without sacrificing the elegance that comes with a wedding.” Brides are choosing clean and simple lines over elaborate and stuffy frills and find that there’s a freedom to the flexibility of wardrobe, menu and decoration. Not to be confused with shabby or plain, keeping your wedding cool, but classy and casual focuses on quality, not quantity, and guarantees your guests a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere with an emphasis on fun.


The wedding invitation usually sets the tone for the wedding, so this is your first opportunity to let your guests know what kind of setting they can expect. “Though clients may wish to have a more casual spin to their wedding day, guests will have expectations with regards to the structure of the event. We encourage the bride and groom to set the tone of the event early through a well-designed invitation,” advises Carney.

The style of the invitation could range anywhere from formal to handwritten with unexpected colour combinations, but a good invitation relays all the information necessary to ensure the guests can arrive feeling comfortable and aware of the details such as dress code expectations. “During a ceremony for example, many guests expect to have a seat. There is an increasing number of standing ceremonies taking place where the client chooses to have no chairs or maybe only a few chairs, making guests feel a little confused,” says Carney. “Communication is essential when you want to move away from what people perceive as traditional or expected.”


According to the Huffington Post, the trend for 2013 is low and lush floral arrangements. (Not unlike those you see in these wedding shots.) Large over-the-top centrepieces are not only more expensive and fussy, but they can act as a barrier between chatting guests. If you want to stay on trend, Pantone recently announced the colour for 2013 is emerald green (symbolizing rejuvenation, balance and harmony).

The inspiration for decor should be minimalistic and simple, but powerful. Favours don’t have to break the budget, but should be well thought out and meaningful such as hand-made crafts or a gift box filled with produce from a local farm. “Clients are using wedding sites like Pinterest, Etsy or Wedding Gawker to gain inspiration for their wedding day. Magazines of amazing displays can seem expensive and unlikely, but looking at other couples who have gone the do it yourself (DIY) route is encouraging for couples looking to achieve a particular style on their wedding day,” says Carney. “The danger of these sites is the experimentation that comes with DIY. It can take a lot of trial and error and precious time, and you also risk making your wedding less unique by copying or adapting the ideas you see on these sites.”


A casual wedding doesn’t mean a boring wedding. Making sure your guests are entertained and engaged is easily achieved by hiring anyone from fortune tellers to hand writing analyzers, tarot readers to caricature artists. “Couples are looking to entertain their guests so that no one is bored. This has meant a lot more entertainers have been hired in our weddings this year to accomplish this,” says Carney.

Something else Carney recommends is the "Wedding Weekend" where the typical one-day wedding is extended to an entire weekend. This works very well for people with a lot of out-of-town guests on the list, making the travel worth the while. “We have done cottage BBQ’s or had clients book rooms for their guests as a weekend mini-vacation, and we will be doing a scavenger hunt this year at a Muskoka resort for a client who wants to have fun with her family and friends who will be coming in for the weekend.”


A relaxing and casual reception dinner is the time where an informal wedding can really shine. Finger foods and BBQ staples are popular guest-pleasing options and have the added benefit of being easier on the budget. “People get quiet and awkward in a formal dining situation. ‘Which fork do I use?’ ‘What is that spoon for?’ ‘Is this my glass?’ I think that clients want to move away from the stuffiness that they might be used to from attending weddings in the past and perhaps are trying to lighten the mood on what is supposed to be such a fun and memorable day,” advises Carney.

She is organizing an upcoming wedding with a BBQ station offering bison or turkey burgers, a baked potato station and premium garnishes accompanied by some great salads. “It is still a wedding. You’re still getting a plate, but you’re changing the mood and you’re changing the expectation.”

Wedding: November 24, 2012
Lynda Stockwell and John Reich, Mississauga
Location: Inn On The Twenty, Jordan, ON.
Photography: Joseph Vetrone Photography
Arrangements: Leslie Buckle
and Jennifer at Little Miss FLowers

story Maureen Scott

Dan Rentillo may not be able to predict the weather, but he can certainly forecast the trends in bridal and evening wear a year or more ahead of time. Dan is design director for David’s Bridal in New York City. They have a location in Mississauga at Meadowvale Shopping Centre. Dan heads up the design team who produce hundreds of bridal and eveningwear designs.

He learned his craft as an apprentice in eveningwear and costuming for TV and film in Los Angeles before moving to New York. Prior to joining David’s Bridal, he designed and sold his own eveningwear collections in prestigious stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The process of designing a bridal wear collection begins at least a year in advance of the launch. “Right now I’m working on Spring 2014,” explains Dan. “My design team and I are constantly travelling to Europe and the Far East to get a global sense of what’s trending in fashion. We are influenced by books, magazines, online, exhibits, movies.

“Then our design team sits in a huge brainstorming session and set out the general concepts for the next bridal season in terms of fabrics, silhouettes, beading and even colour. We research each colour and have a colour centre so we can hit the exact shade we want. The concept, design sketches and construction are done here. We have an incredible pool of talent.

“We feature collections by Oleg Cassini, Melissa Sweet and others and design everything from bridal gowns to flower girl, bridesmaid to mother-of the-bride dresses and eveningwear. We come up with hundreds of samples – more like thousands really – to get the right look.”
You can hear the excitement in Dan’s voice as he talks about the current bridal wear collection for spring – the biggest bridal season of the year.
“The strapless gown will always be a popular choice but there has been a definite trend toward the illusion of a neckline with sheer lace,” says Dan. “We are now seeing lots of different necklines like the tank style with a bit of a strap and the illusion of a neckline or cap sleeve, like Kate Middleton’s gown. Lace has also been a strong trend, but once Kate Middleton wore it, it reinforced the trend.”

Hollywood celebrities also influence bridal gown trends. “Blush pink is trending as Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel wore blush pink gowns,” says Dan. “We have been doing pink for awhile, along with champagne, pale blue and touches of colour on gowns. You can add touches of colour with sashes in hot pink or blue. Coloured gowns work well for second weddings, but most brides still want white or ivory.”
 Vintage looks from the 50’s and 60’s are being embraced this season with fitted bodices, tea-length skirts and lacy details. “Vintage can be from the 1800’s but a bride does not want to look like she is wearing an old dress,” says Dan. “The 50’s vintage look has been going strong for a long time, but we look at certain elements of a vintage look and do a much more modern take. Our Melissa Sweet Collection incorporates elements of the past, but for the bride of today. We also wanted the look to be a bit sexy. This is not your grandmother’s dress!”

One of the biggest style trends for 2013 is the move toward a leaner, cleaner, asymmetrical silhouette, according to Dan. “The feeling of our design team is that we have moved toward a cleaner shape, like the new look from Dior. You can add volume in the skirt or with luxe embellishments.”

An example of this is a line Dan’s team created for destination weddings. “When people hear destination wedding they assume beach weddings, but we consider it anyone going away to get married,” says Dan.
Many brides walk into David’s Bridal with a magazine photo of a bride in hand, asking for a similar dress. “The dress in the photo may not necessarily be the ideal dress for that bride,” says Dan. “My best advice is to try on everything. For someone with an hourglass figure, make sure the waist is defined and an A-line or fuller skirt helps to accentuate the waist. Plus size girls who love to show off their curves also look best in a gown that defines her waist. We have figured out the best universal fit in all size ranges so the gowns look their best on most shapes using techniques like cross hatching and boning. It comes down to comfort and deciding what type of wedding you are having. When the gown fits and feels comfortable, you will look your best. The dress should also make you feel special. After all, you should feel important on your wedding day.”

In terms of what the bridal party will be wearing this spring, Dan says look for deep glorious saturated colours like Horizon Blue (cobalt), Begonia (hot pink), Poppy (an orange red shade), soft Bluebird and Meadow Green. As for the mother-of-the-bride, the key is to pick a modern yet appropriate style. “Mother-of-the-brides are young looking so they need a look that’s current and not matronly. Her dress needs to compliment the bride and coordinate with the bridal party. She could wear a column gown for a black tie wedding or a strapless cocktail length for a more casual wedding.” David’s Bridal offers bridal gowns from size 0 to 26 with select styles available for petites and plus sizes. Their Mississauga store is located at Meadowvale Shopping Centre, 905-824-4655, GL

ABOVE White by Vera Wang, ombre tulle ball gown
with pick up skirt, shown in blush

Strapless tulle ball gown with all-over gold lace by Oleg Cassini

Short printed organza gown with floral sash by Galina