We asked some of Toronto’s top wedding professionals what we should keep in mind when planning a wedding. Planner Lynzie Kent, photographer Scarlet O’Neill, floral designer Tanya List and stylist Jennifer Dang weighed in with their best tips and tricks to help you plan your big day (without losing your mind).

What is an oft-overlooked detail to remember when planning a wedding?

Lynzie: Guest Experience. You want to make sure that your guests have been considered from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. I always suggest walking through your guest’s flow when deciding on a venue. If you feel that anything is inconvenient for one of your guests, you’ll want to address it early.

Tanya: Most people forget to have fun planning it! Yes, there are tons of details to get lost in but so many of those details are really gorgeous so try and enjoy them all!

Scarlet: The most important part when planning a wedding is to remember why you are doing this and never lose sight of the fact that a marriage is the most important part and the wedding is the celebration to honour that, but not the most important part.

Jennifer: When it come to the dress, it’s important to remember that you can’t please everyone. Wear the dress that best represents you and lets your personality shine.

Scarlet O'Neill

Scarlet O’Neill

In what order should things be done when it comes to planning?

Lynzie: First, set a budget. This will determine what you can spend on every item of your wedding and what type of wedding you’ll be having. From here, you’ll want to secure your venue, photographer and dress. Venues in the GTA are very competitive so you have to start looking early. You’ll want to nab your fave photographer before anyone else does and you’ll need to buy your dress a good 8 months prior to your wedding to allow for shipping, if buying it new. Typically couples give themselves about 1 year of planning time, but we’ve planned weddings in just 3 weeks. If you are really organized, you can do it in a short amount of time!

Lynzie Kent

Lynzie Kent

How do I deal with the guest list? I don’t have a huge budget but I don’t want to make certain people feel left out.

Lynzie: Prioritize guests by immediate family, extended family, close friends and other friends like work colleagues, gym buddies etc. You’ll want to make sure that you invite the people that are closest to you and matter the most. Ultimately, if your budget is limited, you will need to cut people. Consider inviting your work colleagues and acquaintances to the dance portion of the evening only so they feel included, but so they also understand that the dinner portion is remaining very intimate.

Jennifer: At some point, you will have to say no to certain things, and limiting guests are going to be one of them. However, you can make guests not invited to your wedding feel included by inviting them to wedding events leading up the wedding day. Being open with your limited guest list is very important in gaining their understanding, but let them know that you would love to have them join in pre-celebrations.

Jennifer Dang

Jennifer Dang

What about the dress? Where do I start?

Jennifer: Start shopping when you’re ready to buy. Give yourself an ample amount of time to order and alter your gown, but don’t leave too much time in between shopping and purchasing. It’s very easy to get exhausted with the whole process. I always advise brides that if they’re already in the mindset of shopping, purchasing should not be far after. Brides should give themselves at minimum 6-8 months to order their dress and 1-3 months to alter it. So 10-12 months is a really good amount of time to start looking and purchasing your dress. Now, if you don’t have that time, don’t fret, some designers can produce in a shorter lead time, offer rush shipping at a fee and many shops sell their samples off the rack. So regardless, you will have options, just be open-minded.

Ask yourself how you usually shop. And if you like to see your options, then limit it to 2-3 bridal shops and make your choice thereafter. If you’re not a big fan of shopping, do your research and pick one or two shops and make your choice from there.

Discuss your budget beforehand and stick to it. Add flexibility by recognizing what other parts of your budget could be adjusted should you spend more or less on your dress. Bring those whose opinion you trust to your bridal appointment, for example your mom and best friend — someone who understands your taste. Bring your entourage for a second appointment after you’re made your decision, or bring them to a fitting appointment. The last thing you need is someone saying they don’t like the gown you actually love. Please yourself first!

Shopping for your dress is a lot like dating–there are plenty of fish in the sea, but after spending time finding your beau, you’re in love and make a commitment to be with them (and thus you stop looking and wondering). You need to do the same with your search, when you find the one, you commit and stop looking (because there will always be more gowns).

Dresses are not often made-to-order. Your size is selected based off your measurements. You will likely need alterations, and often on the first fitting, brides get anxious at not being able to see what the gown is going to look like. You will need at least 1-3 fittings before you can see a perfect fit, so don’t stress yourself out and enjoy the journey. An important tip here is that if you have any concerns, simply voice it during your fittings so that things can be addressed to your liking.

Tanya List

Tanya List

What do people tend to freak out about most when it comes to wedding planning?

Lynzie: Money. Bottom line is that every type of wedding comes with a price tag and I find a lot of couples stress themselves out by trying to keep up with the Joneses. Try to remember that weddings are most beautiful when the focus remains on the love story of the couple and how rad, unique and one-of-a-kind their relationship is. If you can’t afford something, there is no reason to overextend yourself. You should only invest in the things that truly matter to you.

Tanya: Brides tend to freak out most when they don’t trust their vendors. Hire someone you trust. Secondly, if you are hiring someone, you must remember that they are a wedding professional for a reason you may have to give up some control.

Scarlet: I find people get too caught up in the details. Remember the important things and don’t get caught up in the tone of your linens or the height of your floral arrangements. These little things often are the things that take the fun out of it, so try not to fuss over them.

Final tips to keep in mind?

  • Always keep the bar and the dance floor close together.
  • Don’t over-commit to DIYing the wedding, and don’t attempt to DIY your florals.
  • Appoint a family photo delegate to help wrangle and point out family members to keep family photos running smoothly.
  • Give over some control and trust to your vendors once you have booked them. They want to make the wedding beautiful for you!
  • Focus on your personal love story when looking for event day inspiration.
  • Remember this is your wedding NOT your mother-law’s!
  • Don’t worry about impressing others, just do what you love and want.

Lynzie Kent is the Owner and Creative Director of Love by Lynzie Events + Design and the co-founder of The Vow Project. Since 2003, Lynzie has worked on over 150 weddings and countless corporate events in entertainment, event planning and event design capacities.

Scarlet O’Neill has been a photographer for most of her life with a genuine passion for capturing stories with her camera. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Wedding Bells, Toronto Star, Canadian Living, Wedding Co. Wedding Chicks, & Style Me Pretty.

Tanya List has worked in flowers + design since 2001. Her work has been featured in Wedluxe, Wedding Bells, Flare, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, House and Home, Style at Home, The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.

Jennifer Dang is the owner of Ferre Sposa Bridal Boutique in downtown Toronto. She is also the Co-Founder of LUVYT.com designer wedding jewelry rentals and The Vow Project. She’s been featured in Chloe, Elegant Wedding, Wedluxe and Style Me Pretty.

Lynzie, Jennifer, Scarlet and Tanya are all members of The Vow Project, an event based wedding company, giving couples once in a lifetime, styled experiences like their #baebrunch, #snugglesesh, and #radrehearsal worth thousands of dollars in prizes. Enter to win one of these experiences by visiting www.thevowproject.ca.