Archive for Laura Downs

5 Things Every Wedding MC Should Already Know



Photo via Talen Events.

The Master of Ceremonies (MC or emcee) is the host of your wedding and should make sure everyone is having a good time. A good wedding MC is more than someone who is good at public speaking or can tell a few jokes. They should make sure everything runs smoothly and introduce each person who is speaking, as well as important events. We asked Michael Coombs of Toronto-based Michael Coombs Entertainment for five things every wedding MC should know:

1. Be organized
Have everything written down in advance and know exactly what you’re going to say. Make sure you have the correct names and information and a detailed timeline. The MC says opening remarks (not a long speech) and introduces all of the key players of the wedding. “A good wedding MC is organized, responsible and can take instructions well,” says Coombs. “It’s about the bride and groom and not about the MC’s fifteen minutes of fame.”

2. Know what’s going on (and make sure everyone else knows too)
One of the essential roles of the wedding MC is to work with the vendors so everyone knows what’s going on. “It’s very important to know the flow of the evening and make sure everyone is ready for his or her cues,” he says. “The MC is there to lead the audience and have them know what’s happening next.” They should make sure everything is running on time and that the DJ, photographer and vendors are cued to capture key moments.

3. Do your homework
Coombs suggests watching major award shows, like the Grammys, or looking to talk show hosts for ideas. “These people know what they’re doing. You can see everything is short, scripted and to the point,” he says. The most important thing is to be prepared. Meet with the bride and groom beforehand to discuss details and what kind of role they see the MC playing. “There will still be some surprises on the day, but there should be a program or itinerary in place to make sure everything runs smoothly,” he says.

4. Add some emotion and special touches
Interview each speaker beforehand. Ask them how they know the couple or for a special memory you can tell before you introduce them. “The wedding is about emotion and these special moments and this makes it so much more fun,” says Coombs. “It’s a celebration of two people coming together, so you should put emotion into introducing key people.” For example, the MC could ask the bride to write a special message or memory about her parents for the MC to read before they are introduced.

5. Be careful with humour
To tell jokes or not to tell jokes? That is the question. Tread lightly when it comes to humour. Make sure jokes are in good taste and do not offend anyone—especially the bride! “Someone with a great personality or a natural storyteller can make a great wedding MC, but nine times out of 10 jokes will bomb,” says Coombs. The goal is to make everyone feel at ease and relaxed without stealing the spotlight.

4 Great Reasons To Hire A Day-Of Coordinator


Photo courtesy of Photobolic.

Even if you’re a DIY bride, you may still need someone on your wedding day to help bring your vision to life. A day-of coordinator can run the day and see your plans executed smoothly, so you can enjoy yourself and relax. We asked Jennifer Eaves of Blissful Bookings Wedding Coordination in London, Ontario to help explain the reasons why you should consider hiring a day-of coordinator:

1. To make sure the day runs smoothly
Many wedding planners offer a variety of packages, including full service planning, “day-of” services and even “month-of” packages. Unlike a full-service wedding planner, a day-of coordinator is ideal for brides who want to do a lot of the planning themselves, but need someone to assist on the actual day. “It is important to hire a coordinator so that any issues that arise can be dealt with professionally and so that you, as the bride, do not have to worry about any kinks on your wedding day,” says Eaves.

2. To let you enjoy the day
Planning a wedding takes many hours (and can be stressful) so having the input of a professional may put some couples at ease. That way you still have control over the planning process, but will have piece of mind that the plans will be in motion on the day. “The most important duty of the coordinator is to make sure that the couple has a flawless and stress-free wedding day,” she says.

3. To help set up and interact with vendors
The day-of coordinator directs the rehearsals, makes sure everything runs to the timeline and coordinates the day’s events. They can act as a liaison with your vendors, venue and wedding party and double-check all details and contracts. “Since you are busy being the bride, your coordinator can be at the venue setting up and confirming all deliveries have arrived on time, and going over each and every detail so that everything is perfect,“ says Eaves. 

4. To help with preparations and plans
Although the coordinator is hired for the day, you still need to meet with them beforehand to discuss details, responsibilities and their contract. It is also expected that a lot of the planning is already done beforehand, as the coordinator carries out plans based on the bride’s preparations. “There are usually two or three meetings prior to the wedding to finalize all the details and discuss any last minute changes,” says Eaves. “Coordinators can also help with last minute style and décor ideas as well as any wedding day back-up plans.”

8 Special Ways To Preserve Your Wedding Memories (Other Than Photography)


Preserving Wedding Memories

Photo via iStockphoto

Your wedding day is a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Most likely it will be captured on film, and in your memory, but there are other ways to have creative keepsakes of your day. Here are a few neat ways to cherish your spectacular celebration:

1. Time capsule
Have a keepsake box at your reception for guests to add mementos, letters or photos, then promise to open it on your first, fifth or tenth wedding anniversary. You could even have guests fill out a questionnaire with predictions of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing during that time. Just don’t be tempted to peek early on!

2. Framing
You’ll probably pick out your favourite wedding photo to hang over your mantel, but why stop there? Frame the lyrics or music of your first dance song, your written vows, a poem from the ceremony or the love notes you gave each other as you were getting ready.

3. Wine bottles
Pick your favourite bottle of wine or champagne and have guests sign it or keep a bottle of table wine to enjoy on your anniversary. You could even have personalized labels or etchings on the bottle, so you remember which one to store (and not drink right away). Ports and vintage wines last 10-20 years, so pick something that will age well and make sure to store it on its side in a dark, cool place.

 4. Preserving your dress
Your dress is probably one of the most important things you’ll want to keep, so don’t leave it in a crumpled heap in your closet. Have your dress cleaned right away, so stains don’t set, and take it to a professional gown preserver within a few weeks of the wedding. A preserver will make sure the dress doesn’t yellow or decay by cleaning it properly and placing it in an acid-free box.

5. Drying flowers
Drying your bouquet goes beyond the days of pressing petals into a journal. A professional flower preserver can press or quick-dry flowers using silica gel to store in a frame or dome, or freeze-dry your blooms to keep the whole bouquet in tact. You can also preserve the flowers yourself by hanging them to dry, then make an arrangement with the dry flowers and leaves.

6. Freezing wedding cake
Many couples have adopted the tradition of saving a piece of wedding cake for their first anniversary. Some cakes don’t freeze well, so make sure it will stay tasty by wrapping it properly. Remove any decorations or flowers, then let the cake sit in the fridge for a few hours to chill. Wrap the cake up with plastic wrap so air can’t get in, then place it in a freezer bag or box. If you aren’t keen on frozen cake, consider ordering a replica tier in the same flavour as your cake for your anniversary.

 7. Custom wedding art
Hire an artist to paint a custom wedding portrait to hang on your wall. It’s not just limited to a portrait of you and your groom; some artists specialize in bridal bouquet or wedding dress portraits where they create a fine art rendition of your bouquet or dress from a photo you send them.

8. Something blue
Catherine Middleton had a small piece of blue ribbon sewn into her gown for her “something blue.” Embroider your wedding date, initials or monogram into your dress or sew custom labels inside your groom’s tie or your bridal party accessories. You could even get your wedding party to sign the bottom of your shoes in blue. According to some cultural traditions, the bridesmaids are supposed to sign the bottom of the bride’s shoes and after the night is over, the person whose name has faded most will be the next to marry.

Wedding Budget Tips: 5 Ways To Cut The Cost Of Your Big Day


Photo courtesy Tiffany & Co.

Want to have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank? There are plenty of ways to save. Here are five basic wedding budget tips to get you thinking.

1) Reception Time
The best way to help your wedding budget? Be mindful of your venue and the time. Pick a morning brunch, afternoon party or cocktail soiree instead. It’s likely that guests will consume less alcohol if the occasion is during the day. If you’re set on an evening event, try a buffet or family style meal where the cost per plate isn’t as high as a plated sit-down dinner.

2) Alternative Season
June through September is peak season for weddings in Canada, so consider a celebration in the off-season to save — just make sure it doesn’t conflict with holiday party season. Get inspiring ideas from our slideshow on weddings by month.

3) Package Deals
Find a venue that will do everything for you instead of hiring separate services that could add up with charges and tips. And ensure to watch out for extra fees at venues, all those little extras can make you go over your wedding budget.

4) Discount Dresses
If you’re not into buying used or vintage, keep your ear to the ground for sample sales and trunk shows where you can save up to 70 percent on gowns by subscribing to designer and boutique mailing lists.

5) Budget Priorities
The most important part about having a wedding budget is sticking to it! If there are things you must have then put those at the top of your priority list and save on other aspects.

The Secret To Getting Your Guy Excited About Wedding Planning


Photo via iStockphoto.

Planning a wedding is a big job, so there’s no reason why you should go it alone. Involving your future hubby in planning is a great way to spend time together and ultimately have the wedding you both want. If you’re unsure how to get your man involved or interested in wedding planning, we’ve compiled a few helpful tips:

1. Plan together

Sonia Gonzalez, professional wedding coordinator and owner of One of a Kind Weddings and Events in Toronto, says she is seeing a lot more grooms involved in the entire planning process. “In the past, grooms were lead to believe that wedding planning was left to the bride,” says Gonzalez. “However, the modern bride now works a full-time job just as the groom does. Ultimately the wedding is not just a celebration for the bride, but for both the bride and groom.” She suggests making the planning a team effort by bringing him along to appointments and making major decisions together.

2. Play to his interests

The best way to get him involved is to play to his interests, whether he’s creative, handy or technical. Split tasks based on things you are both interested in or have a specific set of skills in. Assign him tasks he’ll enjoy, like picking the music, creating signature cocktails, building a photo booth or ordering transportation. You could even have him plan the honeymoon and surprise you with the details. Having him write his own vows is also an essential, and always romantic, task.

3. Get creative

Go through inspiration and ideas together and ask for his thoughts. “Sit down and discuss the theme and vision for your wedding and create a sort of game plan and inspiration board,” says Gonzalez. “This way it is clear before you start planning what is needed, wanted and budgeted for your wedding vision.” Be supportive and keep an open mind to his ideas. Even if his ideas aren’t what you envisioned, try not to constantly shoot them down, as he may get discouraged.

4. Set aside “wedding time”

Designate a day or night for “wedding time” instead of bombarding him all at once or at random times. Or get the wedding party together for a monthly wedding session and make a fun night of it (it will also give him a chance to get together with the boys). “In my experience grooms that have been a large part of the planning process were extremely proud of the outcome of their wedding,” she says. “Dividing up vendor responsibilities, delegating tasks and simply keeping an open line of communication together will really entice him to be involved in his wedding day.”

5. Allocate responsibilities

Just because you want him to enjoy planning doesn’t mean you should be stuck with all the essential, sometimes difficult tasks. He is your partner after all, so ask for his help and support. He might want to help, but just doesn’t know where to start or what to do, so create a designated task list and schedule. “Grooms must step up to the plate and participate if they ultimately want a wedding day to reflect their style,” explains Gonzalez. “I am finding that for this reason grooms are much more involved because they also want a wedding day to remember.”

12 Dreamy Ways To Decorate Your Ceremony Space


ceremony decor - floral garlands

When it comes to decorating and accessorizing for your wedding, it’s not just the reception hall that needs some sprucing. Your ceremony space will be the first thing your guests see and it is also where many of your important photos will be taken. Whether your ceremony is on a beach, outdoors, or in a church, take some decor inspiration from these amazing real weddings.

Neat Ways To Number Your Tables



Table numbers let your guests navigate through your reception to find their seats, so point them in the right direction in style. Get creative with typography, holders and cards that show your personality and theme. Here are a few neat table number ideas using everything from recycled materials to patterned paper to embroidered fabric.

Chocolate Wedding Favours That Are Hard To Resist


Easter is around the corner and that means it’s that time of year to indulge in chocolate. Who are we kidding? Any time of year is a good time for chocolate, including your wedding day. Chocolate comes in many flavours, shapes and forms, from bars to lollipops to mini-moulds. For your viewing, and tasting, pleasure here are a few of our favourites to date.

Fun Ways To Get Techie On Your Wedding Day


Wedding Tech Ideas

Photo courtesy of Apple.

Technology has made wedding planning even easier with mobile apps, tools and websites. But, wedding tech is not just limited to the planning stage. Many couples are using technology to share their wedding moments as they happen with their guests and the online world. Devices like iPads, smart phones and digital cameras are also adding an interactive touch. We’ve compiled eight of the neatest ways to add technology to your wedding:

1. Stream your wedding live
Skype is a great way to connect with people around the world on the cheap. If a loved one can’t make it to the wedding, video call them or have them watch the proceedings online via live stream. Many destination wedding venues now have video-streaming capability, so you can easily broadcast your wedding.

2. Planning apps and websites
Forget Excel spreadsheets. There are hundreds of apps out there for download that will let you organize, plan and gather inspiration. From budgeting tools to music playlist creators to seating charts, you can keep all of your wedding info at your fingertips.

3. QR code invitations
Instead of waiting weeks for an RSVP, let your guests respond instantly with a QR code invitation. QR codes – short for “quick response”– are barcodes that store data that can be read by smartphones. Having one on your invitation can instantly direct guests to your wedding website, maps, directions and even add the date to their calendars. Add a QR code to table number cards and let guests browse online photo albums or videos.

4. Posting your wedding in real time
Instead of turning off their phones during the proceedings, many couples are choosing to keep them on and sometimes use them during the wedding for in-the-moment selfies and live-tweeting of vows (seriously)! Some couples have even changed their Facebook statuses right at the altar. Wedding hashtags guests can use for Instagram and Twitter have become a mainstay at many modern weddings but some couples are also opting to designate one guest a “tweet of honour” — this person is responsible for posting real-time updates throughout the day.

5. Using iPads
In Denver, Colorado, a bridesmaid couldn’t make it to her best friend’s wedding, so a groomsman “carried” her down the aisle via an iPad. She got to be a part of the ceremony and even mingle with guests from 1,600 miles away. Some couples also use iPads at the altar to read off their wedding vows. The new iPad mini is even small enough to fit into your wedding clutch!

6. Instant photos with photo booths
The newest trend in photo booths is instant photos. Vancouver-based Flipbook offers each guest a photo flipbook of their photo booth pictures, which are printed out in less than a minute. Many other photo booth services offer instant Polaroids or printouts as a keepsake for your guests.

7. Digital guest books
One digital service, Thrilled for You, lets you download a kiosk software program on your computer to let guests record personal wishes. You can also rent a video booth, similar to a photo booth, so guests can record personal messages. Some companies will even compile the raw videos into a montage DVD on the spot. sends you a box of digital cameras, then compiles all of the photos and videos onto a sharing website.

8. Digital frames
Digital frames are a neat way to display photos at your guestbook table. Companies like 3D can can even create a digital 3D album of your wedding or engagement photos!


How To Get The Perfect Wedding Photos


Photography by Gemini Photography Ontario

We see many beautiful wedding photos at WeddingBells, and stunning couples (check out our Real Weddings), so we thought we would share some tips for getting those glamorous, magazine-worthy wedding shots. It’s the photographer’s job to capture your special day, but there are things you can do to make sure you are looking your best in your photos. We asked Angela Y. Martin of Gemini Photography Ontario for some tips on achieving the beautiful shots.

1. Pick the right photographer

Make sure you are comfortable with your photographer and have a good relationship with him or her. Choose someone that fits your style and vision and let them know what colours, lighting and aesthetic you prefer. “Try to really get to know your photographer,” says Martin. “They are your best friend on your wedding day and want to get the most out of you so that they can capture your day in the best way possible.”

2. Practice beforehand

Take a few pictures of yourself, or look at some of your favourite photos, to see what angles or poses look best. An engagement shoot is also the perfect chance to get to know your photographer and practice being in front of the camera. “First look” shots have also become popular and are a chance for couples to shake any nervousness and spend a relaxed moment together. Play around with fun ideas, like having your groom face the opposite way until he sees you, and scout out a meeting spot beforehand.

3. Look your best

In terms of posing properly, Martin suggests standing tall (not slouching) and keeping your arms relaxed (and not squished against your body). With your dress, makeup, hair and natural glow, you’ll most likely be looking and feeling your best anyway. “Take a deep breath and remember the whole day should be positive and fun,” she says. “Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Your photographer should know what way to shoot you and how you’ll look best so trust them and leave any stress to them.” She says the ideal time of day for outdoor pictures is when the sun is lower in the sky, which is anytime between 4:30 and 8 p.m depending on the season.

4. Be natural and confident

As much as having poses in mind can be helpful, try to act as relaxed and natural as possible. Try not to over-think how you’re posing. “The best photos are the most natural, so it’s all about being as relaxed with the photographer and remembering to be confident,” she says. “Your photographer should be able to direct you and pose you if needed, but remember, many of the best “poses” are ones that you just fall into naturally.” Show your photographer some ideas for shots or inspiration beforehand, but trust in their abilities and vision as well.

5. Get those important shots

Create a list of important shots, but don’t sweat over getting every single shot or combination possible. Leave yourself enough time for photos and travel time so you don’t feel rushed or tense. “Confidence truly is key,” Martin says.  “This is your day to shine so try not to get embarrassed or shy. Remember that on your wedding day you are at your absolute best!”

Want to have your big day featured by Weddingbells? Submit your Real Wedding here.

A Muskoka Cottage Wedding in Port Sydney, Ontario

Real Weddings

Heading up to the cottage in Muskoka every summer while growing up in Ontario was a favourite pastime for Carolyn. “Greg and I both love being outside and being up north,” Carolyn says. “We just couldn’t imaging getting married in the city.” The two chose Clyffe House Cottage Resort, a family-run business in Port Syndney, to house their Muskoka cottage wedding celebration. There, friends and family gathered to watch the two say “I do”, partake in fun lawn games and spend the evening dancing under the a tent with Mary Lake within view. Touches of Muskoka, including birchbark and canoe paddles, were scattered throughout, while a photo booth with fun costumes and props entertained guests during the night. “Seeing everyone on the dance floor wearing photo booth props and having so much fun was such a great feeling,” Carolyn shares.

Carolyn Scott and Gregor Bush, September 17, 2011, Port Sydney, Ontario

Photography courtesy of Scott Williams, Capturing the Light.

Ceremony location: Christ Church (705-385-3546)
Reception location: Clyffe House Cottage Resort
Bridal gown: Becker’s Bridal
Bridal party attire: RW&CO
Flowers: Cottage Country Flowers
Other: Rentals by Happenings Party Rentals

See all the photos from this Muskoka cottage wedding in Port Sydney, Ontario.

A Whimsical Fall Wedding in Toronto, Ontario

Real Weddings

An elaborate multi-course meal at Graydon Hall Manor accentuated Amy and Isaiah’s passion for food and wine. “The menu was definitely something everyone left talking about,” Amy says. “It was one of the best meals enjoyed all year—maybe even better than ones we enjoyed during our honeymoon in France!” With coral pom-pom dahlias and vintage prints of Toronto landmarks on each table, the couple treated their guests to a warm and whimsical fall wedding celebration. “I wanted everyone to feel like they were coming to my house for dinner,” Amy explains. And it wasn’t just any dinner: guests were treated to five courses followed by late-night savoury snacks. Each table was decorated with coral pom-pom dahlias and vintage prints of Toronto landmarks. Furthermore, Amy and Isaiah attached corks from their favourite bottles of wine to the centrepieces with twine.

Amy Dixon and Isaiah Banach, October 15, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Lisa McPeek, Ikonica Photography (

Ceremony and reception location: Graydon Hall Manor
Wedding planner: Cynthia Martyn Events
 Jim Hjelm from L&J Bridal
Groom’s tux: Gotstyle and Freeman Formalwear
Bridal party attire: Alvina Valenta from Dina Alonzi Bridal
Hair: FacesbyCarla
Music: Alexsandre Ensemble, Michael Coombs Entertainment
Caterer: Couture Cuisine
Favours: Macarons from Cake Opera Co.
Flowers: Fuscia Designs
Stationery: Sourced from Etsy
Calligraphy by Barbara Kua

See all of the photos from this whimsical fall wedding in Toronto, Ontario.

Delectable And Stylish Dessert Table Ideas


If you can’t pick just one dessert for your wedding, or are not sure about cake, why not consider a dessert table full of your favourite treats, candies and sweets? A dessert table can make a fun, interactive and delicious addition to your festivities. According to Amy Atlas, dessert designer extraordinaire, a stunning table should have the following requirements: a vertical visual element (such as a backdrop or flowers), a cohesive colour palette, fabrics and vessels that work with the table design, a variety of flavours and textures of desserts and labels for each item. Check out these amazing designs for some mouth-watering inspiration.

20 Creative Ways To Show Your Guests To Their Seats


Figuring out where and how to seat your guests can be a complicated task. After all, a seating plan can bring up many complicated quandaries, such as etiquette concerns, guest relations and room layout. But have no fear, there is a way to have fun with creating your seating charts. Give each guest a special keepsake, design a statement piece that incorporates your theme or hang decorative elements or photos. There are many creative ways to show your guests to their seats.