12 things to ask at your first meeting with a Wedding Photographer

A part of my job is getting to know other photographers and “talking shop” with local wedding vendors. We often discuss nightmares we have heard about or seen happening to local brides and cringe. It helps keep me on my toes and thinking of every different contingency to protect my clients from heartache. Here are just a few tips I think are imperative to ask your potential wedding photographer and yourself. It is great if a person comes to you highly recommended by a friend or other vendor but I cannot stress enough the importance that you do some digging yourself first before booking.

1. Will they be available the entire day of your wedding in case you should desire more hours of coverage?

I recently stepped in and shot just one portion of a wedding day for someone because their photographer informed them the week of the wedding that they would not be coming prior to 1pm that day. You need to know that you have that day booked off with them and what their limitations are concerning hours of coverage (some will not work over a certain number of hours). You don’t need to know exactly what your timeline will be before reaching out to book a photographer but it will give you peace of mind to know they won’t be booking other gigs or making other plans the same day as your wedding.

2. How many weddings do they shoot on a weekend?

This is controversial. Some photographers are full of energy and they can keep up with 3 weddings in one weekend. Sometimes these weddings are located hours from each other meaning your photographer will be up pretty late and driving very early to get to you on time. I personally have turned away weddings for this very reason. I know my physical limitations and try to work within them. It will be up to you to decide if you are ok with this. This is by no means a deal breaker. Go with your gut on this one and don’t be afraid to ask.Untitled-2

3. (This is one to ask yourself) Could I be friends with this person? Are they “likeable”?

Yes they are doing a job for you but this is a job that involves a level of comfort. Someone may charge the right price but you just don’t jive with them. Trust me when I say that on your big day you want someone who you AND your wedding party will like. Finding the perfect combination between a person who brings an awesome experience to your wedding day on top of bringing their artistic eye and technical expertise is the perfect combination when searching out the right photographer for you. Another reason why this can really pay off for you is that photographers who easily make friends usually have a network behind them that they can use in a pinch. For instance; they know who to go to in case of emergencies, and those people are happy to come to their aid. This means they know who to call if for instance a card malfunctions after the fact. They know who to ask to replace them if they should all of a sudden get appendicitis. Never underestimate the power of networking and genuine kindness.

DISCLAIMER: Just because someone is your friend or a family friend does not mean they are a good fit. They may not have the same artistic style as you, or they may be LESS professional than another photographer, in a way that could and has ruined a wedding day for many brides. Having said this if your friend happens to be super professional and very talented, hire away! (but get a contract).Untitled-3

4. Do they use a wedding contract?

If a photographer’s contract is done properly it will not only protect them it will also protect your best interests as well. It will clearly state expectations for your own peace of mind. It can also give you an indication of what the “in case of emergency” procedure is with your photographer. ALWAYS get a contract. Friend, family or not. Anyone who shoots weddings without one is a huge red flag.

5. Do they have insurance?

This is important, and in fact I was asked this by a bride not long ago, because her photographer friend had told her to (now that’s a good friend). Insurance covers many things that could happen on your wedding day. Including any property theft of the photographer’s equipment or damages any drunk guests may inflict – to their equipment or perhaps to themselves (if they trip over a stand). The very fact a photographer has taken this precaution speaks volumes about how seriously they take their business. And trust me, you don’t want amateurs capturing your big day.

6. Do they have a back-up camera and lenses?

Professionals always have two camera bodies at least with them and several different lenses for different purposes. This means that if for some reason one camera dies inexplicably (yeah it happens) they aren’t deterred and just grab their other camera and keep going. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. They have to have two camera bodies and several lenses or do not hire them. Unless iphone pictures of your big day are fine with you.Untitled-1

7. (Another one for you) What does your spidey sense tell you?

Having worked with other photographers and hearing all about how some do business I can say their are a few bad apples ( LOADS of great sweet awesome apples too!). Some unsavory photographers WILL lie to your face to get the gig. It’s a very saturated field and a lot of people are clamoring for a piece of the wedding pie and not all brides are savvy about what to watch-out for. They can’t tell the difference between a highly interactive and hands on professional photographer (one who eats sleeps and breathes what they do) and one who is moonlighting and will show up on the day-of and be nothing like what you had hoped. Money is their only “why” factor and they will say what it takes to get yours. Yes we all need money and we should get paid for our hard work but a good photographer should have an actual love for their clients and weddings. In fact it happens from time to time that people steal images from much better photographers and pass them off as their own online on listing sites like Kijiji or even on websites they create. One of my absolute favorite photographers had this happen to him and it was a long while before the matter was discovered and could be dealt with. In the meantime the unscrupulous photographer booked weddings with unsuspecting brides using stolen photos as bait.  Be thorough about researching your short list of potential photographers. Look at their FB page. Check out their Instagram. Some due diligence may save you a ton of issues down the road. If they don’t have any social media presence, there could be something amiss.

8. Will they be the one shooting your wedding?

Many photographers subcontract others to work for them. This means that you may not be working with the person you wanted the day of your wedding. Be upfront and ask them. If they intend to give you another photographer ask for a portfolio of images ONLY taken by the photographer you will have so you know exactly what you will be getting.

9. Have they shot weddings alone or as the lead photographer?

Every photographer starts somewhere. I certainly seconded a bunch of weddings before I felt comfortable enough to shoot one of my own. Pricing should generally reflect experience, but of course, your style and taste are important factors too.  Most often though, you get what you pay for.  Consider if having a more experienced photographer will give you peace-of-mind.

10. What is their process for protecting image files?

Instead of film, most photographers now shoot digitally. Cards, like film, are not failsafe. Photographers all have different ways of protecting your images from this happening. One way is to shoot on smaller cards and keep switching out. This way if a card fails, it will only be a small number of images affected, not your entire wedding day. Another way is the one I use. I shoot to dual card slots. This means that I capture RAW images to two different cards at the exact same time. This method has never failed me once. The one time I had an issue with a corrupted card I simply pulled the other card and all of the images were intact on that one.

11. How long should you expect to wait for edits? Will they provide sneaks?

This only matters if you want your images pronto. We all have different work volume, process and editing style. For some, delivery may take one week, for others, several months. Neither process is wrong. The important thing is that your contract should specify your wait time so you know for sure when you will be getting your images. Do you love the photographers editing style and feel it’s worth the wait? Are you keen to hire someone who is so in-demand that it pushes their editing schedule back? These are all trade off’s. There is no right or wrong answer it is simply important to know the timeframe and set your expectations accordingly.Untitled-4

12. Will they be staying after shooting and do they drink at weddings they shoot?

This is more a note to you then a question for them and it depends on what you are comfortable with. We often get asked to stay and have fun after our shooting hours are over. While at this point we usually consider you good friends, it is not always a good idea. Through the day your guests have identified us as the photographers and will continue to come up to us asking for us to shoot pictures pretty much until we leave. Also, our cameras and cards now contain the images from your entire wedding. Leaving them in a car or at a table is not a good idea.  I do not drink at weddings and I like to run home right after the shoot day is done and I have said my goodbyes, to immediately transfer all images to my editing rig and backup drives. I then look through to ensure all images are accounted for and to pick out the “sneak-peek” images to put aside to edit first. Sometimes errors happen during the conversion process so it’s important to watch for and correct these. This can be a lengthy process, and not something I’d want to do after a few drinks or while exhausted. Having said that, I have mastered the art of dancing with my camera in-hand. Sometimes it makes people laugh or smile which makes for some sweet pics. Finding the delicate balance between fun and professional in a photographer can be like hunting down a unicorn so when you find it, snatch it up! 😀

One last note: If a price is too good to be true, odds are, it is! So read the fine print and do your research. I have heard of people getting a “good deal” and the photographer literally forgetting to bring their camera to the engagement shoot. Photos are the record of your day and 50 years from now, you and your family will still be enjoying them. Invest in a high quality and experienced photographer and you won’t regret it.

I hope this helps a few brides. The best way to ensure the best experience for everyone is to ask as many questions as possible so everyone knows exactly what to expect.

Have a beautiful day!







Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to pick a Cake Artist

The Kingston area is very lucky to have Jessica Stroebel of Jessica Maria Cakes . Her wedding cakes are absolutely stunning and of the moment with a very classic and elegant appeal. She is definitely a local vendor to watch and I highly suggest booking with her in advance as she is understandably in demand. She was kind enough to lend her expertise in this interview for local brides and she is as sweet as the amazing cakes she creates.


  • What should brides ask a cake artist before they book them?

    Before you fall in love with your cake designer, check to ensure they are available for your wedding date, and that their products are within your budget. Ask for their starting prices and any additional fees such as delivery and stand rentals to give yourself a rough idea of the cost. Often times these two simple questions will help narrow your search dramatically. Next, check to see if they offer tastings. The taste of your cake is as equally important as the design. Sampling some flavours will give you a good sense of the designer’s baking abilities, and help you decide which flavour(s) you would like for your big day. Finally, ask a bit about their background and experience. You’ll want to ensure they’ve had some previous experience working with wedding cakes. Be sure to visit their website and social media accounts to see examples of their work. This will give you a sense of their style and area of expertise.


  • Tell us a little bit about yourself and background/education. Why did you decide to become a cake artist?

    I’ve always loved baking. I grew up watching my Oma work wonders in the kitchen. She was an incredibly talented baker, and spent much of her time baking pastries and sweet confections for my siblings and I. As I grew older, I fell in love with the artistry of it all. I realized that there was no limit to what you could create. From then on I was hooked! In 2013 I completed my B.A. in Film & Media Studies at Queen’s University. It was during this time that I started receiving requests from family and friends for custom cakes. I realized how much I enjoyed having that creative outlet in my life, and decided to pursue cakes on a full-time basis. I returned to Queen’s and took a condensed Business and Entrepreneurship program. Shortly afterwards I enrolled in the Designer Cakes Program at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto, ON. It was there that I met the incredibly talented BGC instructor, Nadia Colella, of Nadia & Co. Art and Pastry. I was absolutely floored when Nadia invited me to intern with her the summer following my studies. There, I was able to practice the new skills I had acquired, while working side by side with the best in the business.

  • What is your favorite trend right now in wedding cakes?

    So many great trends have emerged this year, but my favourite has to be the organic floral arrangements. The tightly clustered sugar flower arrangements of 2015 have given way to loosely flowing foliage, delicate laurel wreaths, and floral-crowned tiers. The organic arrangements give wedding cakes a boho-chic look that I just adore!

  • If you had to pick a favorite cake that you worked on which one would it be and why?

    A few years ago I was asked to create a cake inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s work. It was different from the requests I’m used to getting, so I was very intrigued. In the end I created a two-tier cake that was hand painted to look like stained glass (see here). The mosaic came together beautifully, and the bold colour palette remains one of my favourites to this day.

  • What should brides consider if they have a tight budget for their cake?

    There are a lot of options for brides working with a tight budget. For starters, consider designing your cake with buttercream. It’s a cost-friendly alternative to fondant and it tastes delicious. For large wedding cake designs, consider swapping a tier or two out for styrofoam. Its a great way to save on cost without having to sacrifice on the design. Just be sure you have enough cake to feed your guests. Another area you can save on costs is with your sugar flowers. Ask your cake designer which blooms are less expensive to make, and create a design based around those. Alternatively, you can use fresh flowers. Just be sure to coordinate with your florist ahead of time.

  • What is your favorite part about being a cake artist?

    There are many things I love about being a cake artist. The creativity, the chance to be a part of so many people’s big day, and let’s not forget about all the leftovers! It’s a dream job that I feel very lucky to have.

    You can find more info on Jessica at her website here

    Like Jessica’s Facebook page here

    You can follow Jessica on Instagram here

    You can get pinning with Jessica here


Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Happily ever Headwear

I got to have an interview with the very talented local headwear designer of Happily ever Headwear. Not only does Mallory Bishop Brown create one of a kind pieces for brides she also offers consultations to brides to help them make an heirloom  that they can cherish for years to come.


  • Have you always been a creative person?

    I like to think I’m lucky enough to be blessed with an eye for the visual. After a childhood that was steeped in creativity I did an undergrad degree in Visual Arts. There I focused primarily on more traditional mediums; painting, drawing, and sculpture. I have always kept myself busy with small side projects, whether it’s refinishing furniture, sewing Halloween costumes, or painting exterior signage for the pub I used to work at.


  • How did Happily Ever Headwear start?

    In the fall of 2014 I was struggling to find something that matched my vision that was also affordable for my own wedding. So it was off to Michaels and Fabricland where after I sat down in my soon-to-be-husband’s man cave (read: soon-to-be studio) popped on the Princess Bride and got to work on what would eventually become Eleanor, HEH’s first piece. After the wedding, I started to hear from friends and some strangers even, who were wishing that there was something like Eleanor available and I thought to myself “Hmmmm, we might be onto something here.” And it rapidly snowballed from there. The wire pieces were inspired in creating a piece for one of my best friends who was married last summer. She really loved my fabric work but wanted something more understated and in wire. I ended up creating three different pieces for my finicky friend before we got it right. It wound up being a blessing because the extra pieces became the basis for the Bee’s Knees line. We launched to the public in June of 2015, and have received incredible support and admiration from brides to industry professionals alike.


  • What is the creative process like when you are working on a custom design for a bride?

    My custom pieces can be as diverse as the women who wear them. Custom consultations usually take place later in the wedding planning process so that by the time I sit down with a bride, the dress, venue, and general feel for the day are already in place. From there we can work together to create something that is going to be unique for her. A large part of my vision for Happily Ever Headwear has been that I never want it to be static or set in stone. All of my pieces are made to order which has allowed for the process of customization to be built right in. There’s a lot of versatility in the pieces; they’re lightweight and flexible, are easy to wear, and can be molded to suit your style on the big day.


  • What are some things brides should take into consideration when picking out head wear for their big day?

    The “Mom Factor” is huge. Does Mom have her heart set on a veil or a hitherto-unknown cherished family heirloom? We can build pieces that will play nicely with just about anything but we need to know that at the outset. Some pieces can be paired with a veil and others can stand alone or be slipped on after the ceremony. Mom has been thinking about your wedding day long before you have, so it’s nice when we can align her vision with yours.


  • What is your favorite part about designing your beautiful pieces?

    Working with so many different brides is my favourite part. It is so amazing to be able to introduce women to their creative side (if they haven’t met it already!) and help them make their vision a reality. I have also enjoyed making corresponding pieces for the bridal parties and the moms. It’s like making a bride her own unique line that can be loved and shared; and I think the gift of a custom piece is really appreciated.


To see more of Mallory’s creations go to Happily Ever Headwears Website here

To like Happily Ever Headwear on Facebook click here

To follow Happily Ever Headwear on Instagram go here

Shop Happily Ever Headwear on Etsy here

Hair and makeup for these pictures were provided for by and shot on location at The Village Spa & Hair Boutique Hair Stylist: Heidi Harris and Makeup Artist: Deb Hamilton


Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Bridal Creations & Murano’s Formalwear

Picking out THE perfect dress should be an amazing, exciting and fun experience.  Stephen Murano, owner of Bridal Creations and Murano’s Formalwear has helped countless brides achieve just that. I have known Stephen for several years now and a story he told me about playing in the Bridal Creations back office as a child, sticks in my mind.  He grew up immersed in the family business.  Training in all things wedding began early.  Stephen is a true expert in his field. I am so happy to have had the chance to interview Stephen and I can say first hand that shopping at Bridal Creations (where I found my own wedding dress) is a wonderful experience. The atmosphere is luxe and you’re pampered by the terrific team.


  • What are some of the advantages of going with a local boutique for wedding attire?

    A local boutique will always go that extra mile for you. With having a small business our goal is to give the customer the total bridal experience and not just a simple sale. We become friends with our clients and it’s a rewarding aspect for both sides as we gain a customer for life. Another big reason is that we local boutiques understand that business is all about referrals and word of mouth, so simply put if we do our job and treat you as well as you deserve than you will be helping us find our next client!20160120-112133
  • What advice do you give to a bride and groom if they aren’t sure what style of clothing they should go with?

    Be open to suggestions. We always like for a bride to have a style or shape of dress in mind when visiting us however we do like to be able to give expert advice or potentially alternate looks to showcase. If for nothing else, showing different options will help determine “the one”.20160120-111328
  • Who should the bride bring with her while she is dress shopping?

    This is definitely not a standard answer as each group should be different depending on the bride and the personalities of her group. Bringing mom, maid of honor and bridesmaids (some if not all) is very common and it makes for a fun experience in most cases, however it’s crucial for the bride that she is given honest feedback from her group. (for example sometimes we run into the “too-positive-mom” character, and they are the sweetest people, however they love every single dress the bride tries on and doesn’t help in the overall decision when it comes down to narrowing options). More often than in years past we are seeing brides come in alone or with just one other person and make an easy decision finding the dress. Truthfully this is a grey area and it all depends on the bride and the type of support she needs.20160120-112328
  • What are the Wedding dress trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

    The main style we are most frequently asked from brides walking into an appointment is for “fit and flare” or “mermaid” style dresses. Designers have done a great job of making these fitted styles more comfortable and versatile than years past where lack of mobility in the dress was a complaint. Empire and A-Line dresses are still strong for us and continually being looked at by our clients and tried on. The main change going forward is the stronger implement of satin dresses and less lace going forward as designers push for trends to change.20160120-111345
  • How much time does a bride need to order a dress in and have it ready for the wedding?

    Most designers take a maximum of 6 months to arrive and it’s always great to have at least 2-3 months for alteration fittings to ensure a perfect dress. However, if it’s possible to give yourself a full year, it will be more of a relaxed process, given that you will be in no rush or stress and time is on your side to make any changes if they come up.
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you get into the wedding boutique business and what is your favorite part about your job?

    I’m not sure if there’s anything about myself worth highlighting, however I am a pretty lucky person to have a business like this at a young age and be able to help so many people yearly with their special days. When my mother Pina Murano, the original owner, got diagnosed with cancer a second time, i decided to leave school a year early and come and help run the business and as her health declined I took more and more of a role running the business. It’s a very rewarding type of work, my favorite aspect of this job to be honest is sitting down with a couple and giving them as much free vital advice for them going forward as I possibly can. I always say I am the best “free wedding planner” out there. I love to help people and it’s a pleasure seeing so many happy married couples out there we had the pleasure to work with.20160120-113604
  • What should a bride look for when selecting a bridal boutique to work with?

    Our first objective when a bride comes to our store is not just to find her a dress, but to show her that we can be trusted and we want to go the extra mile for her. Once she realizes that we will do our best to make her as happy as possible and the perfect atmosphere is established, then the dress selection will be easier than they thought. Being a big store having much stock as we fortunately do, we have a style of dress and a price point to match for every bride. But as I learned many years ago from my family “Price is only an objection in the absence of value”. Our small bridal boutiques will always go the extra mile and give brides a service that will never be matched. It’s the reason we have been successful for over 21 years and counting!!!!

    Always so fun to talk to Stephen and he really is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of local weddings. Always humble and ready to help he is a joy to work with.

Click here for Bridal Creations and Murano’s Formalwear website

Click here to like their Facebook page

Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Choosing a Videographer

I often get asked for referrals from brides looking for a videographer. Now more than ever wedding videography has become one of the most artistic and beautiful ways to honor and forever cherish those special moments when you say “I do”. I sat down with someone I truly enjoy working with, Erica Groves, to ask her a few questions for brides trying to decide on the right Videographer for them.


What should brides ask a Videographer before booking them?

The Bride and Groom should first and foremost ask for some examples of their work. Preferably several different videos and their most recent work. Although training, experience and knowledge of the equipment they use is good to know, the work speaks for itself. If you like what you see, ask about the steps you need to take to secure your date. Usually a deposit and a contract are required to secure your spot. It is very common practice for companies to have several different freelance workers hired to shoot or edit for them during a busy wedding season. Reputable companies would of course hire professional and talented people to work under their name but always clarify who will be shooting and editing your footage. If it is not the business owner, ask to see examples of the freelancer’s work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decide to become a Videographer?

There wasn’t really a point in time that I decided to become a videographer. I’ve always known that video was my career path. A friend of mine actually has some dusty old VHS tapes of us kids putting on productions in her basement. I think that might have been the beginning of my love for video! So thank you Megan’s parents for having a video camera in the early 90’s! haha! In high school I had a wonderful Com Tech teacher, Mr. Freestone. He knew I had a passion for video and really nurtured my love for production. He even created a course just for me so I could continue to work on those skills after I had taken all of the Com Tech classes that were available! After high school I was accepted into the Television and New Media Course at Loyalist College and graduated in 2004. This course was incredible. It taught us everything from script writing, studio production, post production, news gathering, business and marketing etc. That three year course was invaluable to me. I learned so much and I utilize the skills and training it gave me still to this day. A few years after graduation I built up the courage to start my own production company. I took a 6 week business course at Trenval and with their support, along with the support of my friends and family, I continue to happily work in my field of choice. I feel very blessed every day.

How do you inject a couple’s personality into their video?

Whenever a Bride and Groom send me an email after receiving their video expressing how happy they are with the results, my heart fills with joy and my first instinct is to always say “You guys did it!”. I know that I’m the one that films their day and edits the footage but I really do feel like the Bride and Groom are what make the video special. Photographers are very hands on when it comes to Bride and Grooms on their wedding days-they have to be! Posing and setting up shots is part of their job. My job as a videographer is a bit different. I’m there to capture the day as it unfolds. I get all of the candid stuff in between poses. That’s what makes a video so special. I love hearing the giggles between the Bride and Groom as they are staring at one another inches away from each others faces … *sigh*. It never gets old.

Why should couples hire a Videographer?

Couples should hire a videographer because at the end of the day, what are you left with? 20 years down the road you aren’t going to pull out seat covers, flowers or centre pieces to remember your day. You will pull out your photos and video. Not that the decorative details don’t matter. I had my wedding and those things were important to me too! That’s why budgets are so tricky. Ever since I started I have tried to keep my prices as competitive as possible because I know how important video footage of your wedding day is. Not just footage of the Bride and Groom either! When I shoot a wedding I always make sure to get footage of Parents, Grandparents, friends and family. There is something special about watching and hearing your wedding day on top of having still photographs of it. So many times I hear from past clients that hiring a videographer was the best decision they made. I always encourage people in the wedding party or family members to chip in if budget is a concern. They are getting the couple a wedding gift anyways, why not get them a gift that lasts a lifetime?ERICA4

What are one of your favorite memories from a wedding you shot?

That is such a tough question! There have been many. One that I can think of was from this past summer. The Bride and Groom had purchased these very large sparklers for their guests to light and stand in a circle around them as they had their first dance. When Jess (the Bride) first mentioned this I have to admit, I was concerned! But when they took to the patio outside of their reception hall and those sparklers lit up … it was magical. The video looked amazing.

What is your favorite part about your job? Editting? Shooting?

My favourite part of my job is hearing how happy the couple is with their video. And not for ego reasons haha! I really think it’s so rare that someone gets to do a job where you bring happiness and joy to other people as a result of something that you made for them. Making people happy is the best feeling in the world. In terms of shooting and editing … I can’t really choose! Shooting is great because I’m a people person so I love getting out there and being smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of wedding days. Plus I meet so many great people along the way! Guests AND other people in the wedding industry! But I also love being a hermit too, so at the end of a very busy wedding season I am perfectly happy to close the door to my office to start reliving all of the beautiful wedding days I had experienced all summer long. Once April hits though I am usually vibrating to get back out there. I get the best of both worlds I guess! 🙂

You can check out Erica’s work at

And like her Facebook page here


Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: Your Wedding Flowers

It’s Valentine’s Weekend! The busiest time of year for florists including Kingston’s own Sage Flowers. Many thanks to Jen for taking the time to answer these questions for local brides interested in finding the right florist or possibly doing it themselves.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decide to become a florist?

I went back to school for a Horticulture diploma in my late 20s- one of my elective courses was an intro to floral design. I started a landscaping and gardening apprenticeship after graduation… but when I got a part time job at a local flower shop for the Christmas holidays, I was hooked!


What should brides ask florists before booking a florist?

I would say first things first, do some online snooping and see if our style looks like a good fit for your day! Obviously, availability for your wedding date is the make or break question. If you have particular flowers in mind, ask about availability for those (if your first choice is out of season, we can always suggest some ringers.)  If you and your spouse-to-be have a budget in mind, don’t be shy. Let us know what works best for your budget and we can suggest premium blooms or cost-saving ideas to fit. You can ask about rentals (event glass, arches) as well as delivery and setup services. If you love DIY, you can ask about market bunches (bunches for you to arrange yourself) , or having the florist fill your own glassware or containers that you have decorated. The internet- particularly Pinterest- has changed things so much from back when I got married in the early 2000s and I walked from shop to shop looking at photo albums and price books, haha. People tend to have images in mind before we meet for an initial consultation. It’s more acceptable to talk about budgets right from the start as well, (when I got married, it was the last thing discussed)  which gets everyone on the same page right away, and saves a lot of time and headaches.DSC07608-1

What trends are you seeing a lot of this wedding season in florals?

King’s tables- long tables withguests seated both sides, instead of round tables. This is leading to different centrepiece configurations, garlands and runners down the centre of the table, etc.

Rose gold, mercury glass and subtle metallics have arrived in Kingston 🙂

Vintage and rustic looks are still going strong, and everything is blending together nicely.

For bouquet shapes, I’m seeing a 50-50 split between couples who love the rounded, ruffly shapes in a more compact  bouquet, and couples looking for an organic, wildflower look. I’m getting requests for ‘messy, spilly’, asymmetrical bouquets, but so far we’re still rocking the hand tied stems (as opposed to flowers arranged in a foam bouquet holder for the traditional cascade shape)DSC07612-1

What is your favorite flower for wedding bouquets and why?

I love to include roses and spray roses! (Only when the couple likes them, obviously) I may be in the minority here, haha. You just can’t beat roses for colour and romance, and they are super tough compared to many popular wedding flowers.

Is there any advice you can give DIY’ers?

Practice first. Time everything so you know exactly what you’re getting in to, and keep notes on how many flowers/how much foliage you use so you know how much to order. Ooh, always order extra leaves (or have a good gardener friend who will let you go on a raid) Get helpers! Lots of helpers. Make sure you have buckets for the flowers, and a cool place to store everything, and boxes and packaging to transport everything. Pick and choose the projects you decide to take on, and outsource anything too time consuming, so it stays fun and doesn’t become stressful. And always always remember: PUT THE FLOWERS DOWN BEFORE YOU GET YOUR MANICURE. You don’t want green fingernails on your wedding day. Trust me!

DSC07615-1What is your favorite part about being a florist?

Honestly, my favourite part is also the part that causes me the most anxiety- I love the ephemeral nature of flowers.  I love taking something so temporary and turning it into such a meaningful part of a meaningful day. The daily dose of beautiful colour and fragrance doesn’t hurt either.

Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to Select an Event Planner for your Wedding

I met with Event Planner Krista Stechyson of Smart Weddings and Events to find out as much info as possible for local brides and came away with a lot of helpful information. I can see why brides would want someone like her there for them leading up to and on their wedding day. I know as a photographer it always makes my job easier when the couple has booked a good planner.


Why should couples hire a Wedding Planner?

Some people think that hiring a wedding planner is only for the rich and famous, but that is not true! I work with all kinds of different couples with all sizes of budgets. Wedding planning can be stressful and time consuming and many couples have work, family and personal commitments that don’t allow for enough free time to plan the wedding. Having a professional planner can take a lot of that pressure off and allow the couple to enjoy the process and their big day! Just a few things that wedding planners and coordinators can assist you with include:
– We have experience with vendors and suppliers that we know are trustworthy and reliable, and we can provide you with guidance on who will meet the needs of your wedding.
– We will keep your budget on track and can suggest the venues and suppliers that will work best for you.
– We will liaise and be the main point of contact with all of your vendors and create a timeline for the day so that everyone knows when and where they need to be at all times.
– You have amazing ideas and a vision for your day and we will know how to execute it in reality.
– Many couples live outside of the area where they are planning their wedding and want someone local to be responsible for getting the details of the wedding together.
– We will be there in person on your wedding day and available throughout the entire process to ensure the set-up, rehearsal and big day go off exactly as planned.
– We can think of logistics ahead of time that someone planning a wedding for a first time wouldn’t think about – who is picking up the flowers, will the bridesmaids have a meal prior to the ceremony, how are the groomsmen getting to the ceremony if the limo is picking up the bridesmaids, who is taking the gifts and cards home after the ceremony, etc.
– We’re there for guidance, support and encouragement throughout.

 Give us some examples of emergencies that a Planner can be of great help in fixing on the big day?

I try to plan for every eventuality ahead of the wedding. I always confirm with vendors, ensure everyone is paid and that all parties involved know when to arrive and where to be, but there are some things that can still be out of your control. A few small emergencies where I was able to manage the unexpected this past year include:
– I had to drive a guest back to their hotel during the reception, in a blizzard, because they forgot the game that the couple asked them to bring to the dance.
– I rushed to pick up eyelash glue because the Bride’s false eyelashes were starting to fall off.
– I had to move the ceremony chairs inside last minute because of an unexpected storm.
– I fixed the icing on the wedding cake when a small child decided to take a bite while no one was watching.
– I arranged last minute transportation for an elderly family member who had a fall earlier in the day and wasn’t able to make it into the family limo to go to the ceremony.
– I sewed a groomsman into his pants because the suspenders broke and he didn’t have a belt. I bring an emergency kit with me to every wedding to fix makeup, clothing, décor and anything else that may occur. My job is to ensure there is a solution to any issue that may come up and that the couple and their families continue to enjoy the day without having to stress over these details!

What are three questions couples should ask planners before they hire them?

I always encourage an in-person meeting prior to reserving with a couple so that we can get to know each other and ensure that it will be a good fit. This is a great opportunity for both the bridal couple and the planner to ask questions so they can get to know each other. My suggestions for questions to ask a wedding planner during an initial consultation:
1) Ask what their wedding and event experience is. Find someone with real knowledge, contacts and a background in event planning. Don’t be afraid to ask for references!
2) Ask what is included in each package. Most wedding planners offer a day of coordination and a full wedding planning package. Ensure that the package that you are interested in is the right fit and that it works with your needs.
3) Ask for ideas for your wedding to see how creative they are and whether your visions line up. This one is a bit trickier and the planner may have to get back to you with a proposal with ideas but it is important to see what they can come up with. You want to ensure that the planner sees your vision and doesn’t provide “cookie cutter” suggestions. We may not divulge all of our trade secrets until after a contract is signed, but most planners would be happy to provide complimentary suggestions and ideas.

 What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

I am noticing that there is a trend towards classic weddings, instead of rustic. For the last few years rustic chic was the look that was in fashion but I see that a lot of couples are moving back towards the more formal and traditional reception. I am sure we will still be seeing mason jar centrepieces for a few more years to come, though! Naked cakes are all the rage this year! This is when you have a traditional tiered wedding but it is not covered in fondant or buttercream icing and is left un-iced. It creates a gorgeous natural look.
I also think we will be seeing more bright colours for weddings in 2016. The palette for weddings over the last few years has been soft, ethereal and romantic – think blush, cream and ivory. In 2016 we are seeing bright, vibrant pops of colour everywhere. Purples, reds, yellows and lots of tone-on-tone colours (different shades of the same colour) will be the new trend!

How do you inject a couple’s personalities and taste into an event?

I think the measure of a good planner is to be able to read the clients’ needs and desires so you are able to provide them with their vision for the day. I always have an initial consultation where I ask all kinds of questions in order to get a full picture of their wedding. I also ask for plenty of photos (or their Pinterest board) so I can get a good idea of their style. Once I get to know the client I am then able to make suggestions for vendors that will fit with their personalities and that will work with their aesthetic and point of view. Every event is unique and I pride myself with being able to provide a one of a kind day for each couple.

Why did you decide to become a planner and how long have you been doing it?

I have been planning events for as long as I can remember. I organized my first “real” event, a large conference for teachers when I was 15, and I haven’t looked back since. I studied commerce in university and continued to work in the event industry during those four years and that is when I first started working with bridal clients. I was a catering manager for the University of Guelph and we held all types of weddings on site, from intimate ceremonies in the Arboretum to 400 person sit down meals in a grand hall. I moved to Kingston after graduation and started working in the hotel industry managing the catering department at a downtown property. While there I worked with many wedding couples, as well as planned corporate and social events. While living in the United States for a few years with my husband I decided I was ready to start my own business, a dream of mine for a while. I opened the business slowly while I was there and then when we moved back to Kingston a few years later I ramped the business to what it is today. I have worked on hundreds of weddings over the past 12 years and have operated my business for just over 2 years in Kingston. It is my passion to bring my years of experience, my organizational skills and creativity to my clients.

What is one of your absolute favorite memories from a wedding you planned?

It is a bit of a bittersweet memory: I helped an amazing couple plan their wedding extremely quickly, in less than one month, because they received devastating news that the bride’s father had an aggressive terminal illness. They wanted to ensure that they would not have to compromise on their day, even with the short timeline. We pulled out all of the stops and made sure the wedding was fabulous. The father daughter dance was so touching; there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was a privilege to help this family have this wonderful memory. The father passed away two weeks after the wedding.

Thanks so much to Krista for taking the time to give us all this great information and I’m sure she shares with me in the sentiment that we hope it helps many a bride while planning her big day!

Kingston Wedding Expert Interview Series: How to Select a Venue for your big day

Often the most important task of planning your wedding day is to choose a venue you love. I thought of the team at Jessup Food & Heritage first. I have been privileged to shoot in their venues. Assistant General Manager Tim Archibald was amazing and very helpful at answering all of my questions – something I highly recommend when picking an event venue specialist to work with. 


Left: Tim Archibald-Assistant General Manager ~ Right: Ryan Chartrand-General Manager

How long in advance should couples book their preferred venue?

It really depends on how many guests will be invited , if they have a set date in mind, and how much they plan on reserving for the date ie. DJ, wedding planner, officiant etc. I recently worked with a couple who had 45 guests, they were going to play their own music and didn’t care too much about a certain date. We were able to plan their special day in less than 2 months. If you are planning a bigger wedding with over 100 guests it’s always best to give as much notice as possible to allow them to arrange travel plans.  Most couples plan a year in advance.

What are three questions couples should ask the venue before booking other than if the date is available?

1)  Ask “what is included in the venue rental fee.”  Will they provide linen, glassware, speakers, microphone etc.? The last thing you want is to not ask about these and then get hit with unexpected costs and blow your budget.

2) Does the venue come with any decorations at all?  Some venues will decorate according to the season and already look beautiful. Other places may be bare bones and you are going to need to budget for a decorator.

3) Is there a minimum liquor spend? A trend with newer venues is they have a minimum amount you must spend on alcohol or else they charge you a fee.  Make sure you are only going to pay for what you consume.

Matt&Corin-reception (15)

What are the Wedding Trends you are seeing a lot of this year?

A number of weddings I have sold lately will have a smaller number of guests for the ceremony, reception, and dinner and then they will invite more of their friends after for the dance and party portion of the wedding.  This is a way to keep your budget lower, create a more intimate ceremony and banquet and then bring in the friends who will be ready to party and dance afterwards.

We have seen a few clients ask to do food stations for their banquets.  A recent couple I worked with came from German and Scottish backgrounds. They had a German station, a seafood station,  a pasta station and a  Scottish  station.  I thought this was a neat way to bring together families of different backgrounds and make them all feel comfortable while serving a great array of cuisines.

How many people can each of your venues accommodate?

Renaissance Event Venue – the oldest standing church in Kingston: The Upper Salon has a maximum occupancy of 200 while the lower salon can hold 150. Denis Leblanc is an owner and operator of Renaissance and meets with each client to go over details before the big day. His attention to detail speaks volumes to our success.DSC09222

The Great Hall upstairs at Sir John’s Public House can hold 100. It is perfect for smaller groups as it has two gas fireplaces and a whisky bar with rolling ladder and 15 draught selections.

Fort Henry has 5 dining rooms that can hold 58 guests in each. As 3 of the dining rooms run parallel together and are connected we often will use one as a dining room, one for the reception and bar and the other as a dance floor. At Fort Henry we can also do tent weddings in the parade square that can hold 200+ guests. We can also work alongside the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and cater their Discovery Centre at Fort Henry.

What is something unique to the Jessup Food & Heritage Wedding experience?

The name of the company really tells the tale of our uniqueness. Our owner, Paul Fortier is a Historian by trade and lover of world food and beverage. Paul really researches the different cuisines from different countries and eras. We offer historically accurate meals at a high level of quality.  If a client wants to do a traditional chicken, salmon, vegetarian option banquet that is not a problem, but we can also switch gears and offer some incredibly unique menu options like Haggis, Tatties and Neeps  or even a  Cornish Pasty Beef Pie . We are lucky that our owner Paul works so closely with our executive chef, Scott Wemp to come up with new and delicious ideas. If we are asked to create a dish we aren’t sure of, we treat it like a challenge and do our research to make our clients happy.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your favorite part of your job?

After graduating from Mount Allison University with a degree in Sociology and Canadian Studies I moved to Kingston and was lucky enough to meet Paul. I started out as a supervisor at Fort Henry while bartending at Sir John’s Public House for a year. After switching careers for a year and a half I was lucky enough to meet back up with our General Manager, Ryan Chartrand for lunch. He discussed the need for more help in the office and a few weeks later I signed back up as the Assistant General Manager with a focus on event sales and venue operations.

Meeting and working with our clients is my favorite part of the job. I enjoy the unique experience that each wedding or event offers. I love seeing the progression of events. From the first phone call where I put a few ideas down on paper, to showing the venues and revising the proposal to the clients wishes, and finally to the operation of their special day. It truly is a rewarding job.

What is the best piece of advice you can give couples to help them choose a wedding venue?

I would recommend finding a venue that has an operations manager so you know everything will be punctual and run smoothly. Find a location and company that you enjoy working with because chances are over the course of planning your wedding you will have them on speed dial. Lastly, find a space that will leave an impression on your guests and one that they associate with your special day. Chances are they will never forget the wedding that took place at the oldest standing church in Kingston, Historical Fort Henry or the law office of Sir John A Macdonald!

Matt&Corin-Ceremony (118)

Best of wishes to all of the local brides reading this as you hunt for your perfect place to say “I do” 🙂