Planning Tips’ Category


Real Wedding: Nam & Darshan

Today we are featuring a real wedding from this past Spring, as seen in the latest edition of Lavish Dulhan magazine!

We spent countless hours with our wonderful clients Nam & Darshan to ensure every detail and part of their wedding day was cohesive, unique and custom to their personalities!  From delicious caramel popcorn to mini donut favors (their favorite indulgences) to an ice shot sculpture with their signature shot for the night! From start to finish we fused their interests and tastes every step of the way – creating memorable details that truly made their wedding their own!  Check out just a snapshot of their day wonderful Spring day!

LD Blog Nam & Darshan

Screen shot 2011-12-22 at 5_35_18 PM

Full-Service Wedding Planning: Arora Wedding & Event Planning

Photography: G+H Photography

Venue: Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex

Cinematography: Fusion Productions

 Beauty:  Shirley Wu Beauty Concepts

Decor & Florals: Berries & Bloom

 Cake: I Do! Wedding Cakes

 Donut Favors: Paulette’s Original Donuts

Fashion: CTC West

DJ: Nspire Sound

Entertainment: SGPD


Weekend in The Hamptons | A Luxury Inspired Editorial Spread

The design and decor reflect casual elegance at its finest.  The theme of relaxed luxury is communicated through the use of decorative elements amongst bountiful floral and fruit.  Timeless blue and white ceramic dinnerware evoke a sense of nostalgia, while remaining formal.  Wooden furnishings provide warmth to the overall design scheme.  Relaxed summers by the beach provide perfect inspiration for this wedding!  View the complete spread in print in the newly released Summer/Fall 2013 issue of Lavish Dulhan magazine – in stores now!

LD Blog Weekend in Hamptons

Concept & PlanningArora Wedding & Event Planning

Photography: Melanie Galbrand-Chen, Verve Photo Co.

Beauty: Amplified Soul: Makeup+Hair Couture

Styling & FloralParas Events

Cakescape & Sweet Table: Fine Cakes by Zehra

Stationary Love, Paper & Ink: Fine Bespoke Stationary

Decor Rental: Design2Decor

FashionCTC West

Dining Tables & Chairs: Contemporary Furniture Rentals

Menu: Chef Michael Robertson, Oliver & Bonacini Events

Millinery: David Dunkley

Veil & FeatherBlair Nadeau Millinery


Platter-Passed Dining ~ Adding Variety & Fun to your Dinner Service!

Just as many wedding receptions start off with energetic chatter during cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, we find many couples putting the breaks on their night soon after this “cocktail hour” is done. Mingling is most often interrupted by “Please find your seats, we’re about to begin dinner.” And don’t get us wrong, formal dining is still the most common service style requested by today’s couples. When done right, it is classy and elegant. Yet, for some of today’s more adventurous couples, the cocktail hour is just the beginning. They want to carry this energy right through the meal and with a “Mix & Mingle” style of service, and although some hesitate, it’s easily accomplished!

How can we do this? Through creative menu design, floor plans that create movement and service staff who are dedicated to the concept as well. There are many menu and food presentations we can use to achieve this — however, the one on the cutting edge is the four-course cocktail party. This concept involves recreating each course so that it can be easily served and consumed while roaming the reception venue and is only limited by the chef’s imagination and your vision. Below is a sample menu that we created and how it works.

Cocktail Hour: Passed Appetizers
You’ve seen hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before, nothing new here. Just make sure you include a fun variety of both hot and cold items that compliment the courses to follow. The presentation should be as fun as the items themselves!


First Course: Standing Salad Service
The first course is announced by  your MC, DJ and visually by the servers as they work the room. In this case, we recommend a trio of delicious, bite-sized salads.  Add variety again by using different greens, dressings and also seasonal fruits.


Second Course: Soup Shots
Tray-passed and served in tiny demi-tasse cups (we are thinking espresso size servings). The staff would circulate offering a variety of tasty and colorful soup options – again here you can opt for some cold and hot options!


Third Course: Seated Entrees
At this point, guests are asked to take a seat at tables for a family-style meal.  The mingling will continue at the table as guests pass the platters to one another. For family style service we recommend a maximum of 5 dishes (not including any sides)

Fourth Course: Passed Desserts
Work with your venues pastry chef to create something unique and perfect for your event. Again our suggestion is: variety, and lots of it! An assortment of mini treats and flavours that compliment the cake or in some cases, replace the cake all together.


As you can see, there are many options to the traditional sit-down dinner. Platter-passed courses offer so many opportunities to keep the energy level high and to ensure that everyone has a rich and memorable experience. It’s your party, so do what makes you happy and comfortable but most of all remember to make the time to mix, mingle and enjoy!


Are you Instaready? This is How to Instagram Your Wedding!

If you’re like me and addicted to Instagram here are some easy ways that I have found to help satisfy your Instagram and Wedding Planning addiction!

1) Hashtag Your Wedding & Print Pictures with Printsagram or PostalPix - Come up with a hashtag for your wedding and spread the news to friends and family (via your wedding website obviously!). There are several sites that will allow you to print from Instagam.  Postalpix is an app that will let you do this (print pictures on luster sheen paper, aluminum and more). Check out Printstagram for mini albums and books. They’re the perfect complement to your professional album from your photographer!

2) Send Postagram Save-the-Date Postcards! - Download Postagram to  your phone, choose your photo, add the content, and compile your guests’ home addresses. This site actually coordinates and sends the cards for you!

3) Rent an Instaprint Photo Booth - Rent an Instaprint photo booth and you’ll have everything you need to shoot and print mini Instagram prints on location for all your guests to take with them. If you’re a DIY bride, I’ve also read about some couples that create their own DIY Instagram photo booths using the Instagram app for iPad!

4) Create Sticker Labels for Favor boxes using Instagoodies - Add some pizzaz to your wedding favor boxes or thank-you cards with Instagram photo stickers using Instagoodies. It’s a low-cost way to really make an impact!

5) Show off your Honeymoon Pics with Casetagram! - How else are you going to put all those beach photos to good use? Casetagram lets you design and create your very own iPhone case — made entirely out of Instagram photos. This could potentially also be great for bridal party, or bachelor/bachelorette favors as well!

Happy Planning!




2013 Cocktail Trends – Part 1

As the 2013 wedding season is hitting us in full force, the bar and beverages are becoming an integral part of the planning process. With cocktail scene moving at a rapid pace we are already out with old and in with the new for 2013 – and here is what we think will be big!  We’ll be doing a series of 3 blog posts to share these ideas with you!

daiquriCan anyone say Daiquiri’s? What makes Daiquri’s so great is that they are so simple. With just 3 key ingredients: White Rum, Lime Juice and simple Syrup, you’re on your way to a rocking cocktail!  Also RUM is making a huge comeback and so we’ll be seeing a lot of these fruity cocktails at weddings this summer.

Chef’s Inspiration: The distance between the bar and the kitchen is getting shorter at a rapid rate.  Chefs are starting to create ingredients to be used in cocktails.  Using creative foods such as smoked pepper infused Bourbon, or pickled bitters are just some example of how far you can take it! chef

Lower Alcohol Content: This is something that we’ve seen slowly becoming really popular.  Taking drinks that may originally have a higher alcohol content but switching them to lower content alternatives. For instance substituting Whiskey with a Campari, dramatically drops the alcohol content by 50%.  As the North American palate changes toward more of the dryer, bitter and reasonable tastes this trend will continue to grow!

Spirit of the Year Goes to Brandy! The next big spirit we will see this year is brandy. Drinks like Cognacs and Armagnacs will be seen everywhere as the world of booze is starting to take similar form as the world of wine. Barreled Brandy’s and aged Cognac’s will be all the rage!


Next Big Ingredient – Minerals: So in 2012 we’ve already done vegetables and so 2013 goes back to the elements and using minerals. Things like slate-cured Vodkas and serving mineral salts alongside your drinks so that people can add this to suit their taste buds will be seen in upscale bars as well as at luxury wedding events.

Stay tuned for more inspiration for your bars in Part 2!

Happy Planning!


The E-Vite – What to Consider?

With the era of email and everything virtual, many of our clients ask us about what to consider when doing an e-invitation, or if they should even do one at all. The e-vite has many benefits, some of which are obvious – the cost factor and saving some on your budget, minimizing your wedding footprint on the environment, and of course and most importantly to some of you – your TIME! Here are a few tips to consider when going electronic!

- With electronic invitations, assume everything gets forwarded, wether its to someone you forgot on your list, or your friend forwarding your chic invite for someone else to look at – so it has to be tested that it forwards well, and you have to understand people are looking at it in different formats.

- Think about the difference between HTML and PDF formats. It is definitely easier to send a PDF, but depending on the size of your guestlist it’s very likely that you will get tagged as spam if you send a lot. The other option is to have it embedded into email [HTML], which requires more work.

- For those of you who are traditional romantics who love the feel of hard copy invites, or for those of you who have parents that demand them you also have the option to send a printed invitation but direct guests to respond using a Web form or Website. It’s much faster than a traditional RSVP all the while still saving your SOME money on the extra card, postage, and paper! An online form allows you to obtain further information from guests in a way that’s easily organized and  that will maximize their experience. For example, learning of a food allergy, transportation preference, or need for a baby changing area or booster seat ahead of time will eliminate confusion or frustration on site.

Happy Planning!

- AWE Team


The ABCs of Children at Weddings

The debate to having versus not having children as part of your special day is a controversial topic. Of course, weddings are a time to celebrate so naturally your guests will want to bring their little ones along. The decisions that need to be made are; how many kids do you want at your wedding and how are you going to manage them?

The Breakdown

Kids Under 1: This batch of babies is usually in arms or asleep but it really only takes one cry during your ceremony or your speech to ruin that special moment- unfortunately there is no redo button!

Ages 2-5: This group of troublesome toddlers often find it difficult to contain their excitement. We normally see parents trying to calm their kids with candies and other distractions such as toys – but sometimes they just don’t work! It’s a gamble – if it works great, but if not a terrible tantrum can ensue.

Ages 5-9: This group is what our team likes to call “the runners”. This is the group of kids that run around EVERYWHERE, especially when a full blown game of tag is underway. The usual track these children like to run will include (but not limited to) making laps around your cake, your very delicate head table and their favorite space of all – your dance floor! The dance floor is a great open space for them to play and slide around on. This is definitely when a babysitting service should be employed!

Food for Thought

At most venues you will usually be offered a children’s choice of meal that is not only less expensive but will also be more appetizing, size appropriate and a healthier for the children attending your wedding. If your dinner is comprised of a buffet, ask your caterer for a children’s menu price which could save you up to 50% off the adult price per head.

We also advise against putting out candy and sweets for them ahead of time when they arrive at their place setting. They often eat these prior to dinner not only making them full but hyper for the rest of the night. If you are having goody bags, have them handed out right before the speeches to keep them preoccupied during this time.

If there is a separate room for kids with a professional and qualified babysitting service ensure, that beverages and snacks are available in the room.

Children over the age of 12 are considered adults in terms of food from your venue or caterer as well as entertainment. Kids over 12 will not appreciate colouring books, or a babysitting service, so keep this in mind when you are tallying your final numbers!

Smart Solution

The AWE team are strong believers in getting what you plan for. Our clients who do have a concern regarding the number of children at their wedding appreciate that we provide honest advice in hiring a professional and reliable babysitting service. Not only does this solve your problem but it does so in a classy way. What better solution than to provide them with a party of their very own. Our vendors will entertain children from the time they arrive through various games, crafts, music – all in an organized manner of course! The kids will also get their own gift before leaving the wedding – which can act as a favor as well! When hiring a babysitting service it is important not to hire just any ‘off the rack’ of the Babysitter– your choice should be someone who is not only Early Childhood Education and CPR trained, but who also specializes in event babysitting. Reliable services should also have no problem providing a criminal and background reference check as well. The price for something like this usually depends on the number of children, their ages, hours of supervision needed and the number of staff required but typically prices can range anywhere from $12-20 per hour, per child. This cost also usually includes crafts, activities and all equipment needed as well as the gift bags.


Making the Out of Towners Feel at Home

With so many of our new clients being from out of town, or stuck with the burden of catering to out of town guests, we wanted to share some ways you can make the settling in process fit within the wedding festivities in a warm and seamless way.

First, we feel it is important to take the time to recognize the special efforts made by your airborne attendees!  The following are few ideas the AWE team has compiled to ensure your guests get the welcome they deserve without putting a hole in your budget!

Home Sweet Home

One of the first steps to consider when expecting out of town guests is where will they stay? You can start by making your guests feel appreciated even before they arrive by setting aside a block of rooms at a local hotel that is close to either your residence or ideally your venue.  Many hotels will offer reduced group rates (reduced even further when you work with a planner!), and since you know the area better than your out of towners, booking accommodations in advance is an overall great idea.  In most cases the minimum number of rooms required to make a block is around 10 rooms per night.  If your out of town guest volume is above this it is often a nice gesture to have 2-3 room rate options at various hotels so that you guests have the choice in price point when they decide to book.  Once your selections are made you can include this information in your invitations, or on your wedding website for guests to refer to.  Not only does this easy and small gesture save your guests the hassle of making travel arrangements, but shows them you appreciate their effort to attend your event.

 Yummy Treats

Nothing hits home after a day of airplane food or take-out than a variety of yummy treats when your guests arrive at their hotel.  But before you start researching on the standard fruit basket put some thought into the message you want to send.If you have a small list of family and friends why not specialize the treats to the guests? If you know your college friend likes to unwind at the end of a long day with a glass of wine, its a good idea to throw in a bottle of wine with a small cheese platter. Or if your favorite aunt has a soft spot for chocolate she may be thrilled to find a plate of her favorite kind upon arrival.If your out of town guest list is too large for this much personal attention, consider gift baskets stocked with local treats or that go with the theme of your wedding. It’s important to call the hotel ahead of time to work out with the front desk or concierge the best way to get the gifts into guest rooms before they arrive, as well as when they should be dropped off to the hotel.

 The Little Travelers

If your guests will be arriving with the little ones in tow why not help out the parents with some post-travel trauma relief.  Prepare activity packs with age specific games and activities to keep the kids busy while their parents can enjoy their weekend away.  Busy kids will also be less disruptive to your weekend of events!  Ensure that you consider all items including, batteries, pen and paper! Also be sure to avoid anything that can be too noisy or messy!  In our experience large boxes of crayons are usually a safe way to go, and travel versions of board games work will if there are several children in the same age group.

The Survival Kit

It’s hard to imagine that after the catering, clothing and that to die for cupcake bar have all been paid for there is anything left over for welcome gifts.  However, putting together a survival kit containing all the information your guests might need for their stay is an easy and inexpensive way to show them your appreciation. 

Some things to include:

- A welcome note that greets your guests and thanks them for coming

- Directions to the nearest drugstore/convenience store if there isn’t one at the hotel

- Menus and directions to local restaurants (for an added touch put down your favorites!)

- A list of taxi and car rental services

- Brochures or a list of local attractions that they may want to look at while they are in town

- Maps and guides for public transportation – be sure to include directions to the closest pick up points

- Directions and phone numbers to the nearest same-day dry cleaners

- Local sources for fax, email, etc.  Many of your guests will still be working while they are in town!

- An itinerary of wedding events

- Driving directions from the hotel to your wedding venue and back (if budget permits you may want to consider a shuttle for those guests without vehicles)

- Family contact information

Be sure to ask the hotel for help as they will probably have all of this information on hand already

Other Ways to Include the Out of Towners

- Invite them to your rehearsal dinner or to a gathering taking place after the dinner, or a pre-wedding function

- Arrange for a hospitality suite at the hotel that is stocked with snacks and drinks

- For those guests who couldn’t it make from out of town why not send them a wedding program with a note that says they were missed

- Now a day with technology on our side you can even ask your videographer if they can create a live stream broadcast online so that people can view your wedding from miles away right at home!

Happy Planning from the AWE Team!


The Uninvited Wedding Guest: HST

So the infamous HST is in full affect and so many of our clients have come to us with questions and concerns that we felt it beneficial to all brides and grooms planning their big day to get the low down on the dreaded HST.

 The new Ontario HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) now replaces the former GST and PST as of July 1st, 2010, combining the individual taxes into one tax of 13%.  Many wedding services already included both taxes however there are a few more areas where couples will now be hit!  As a result we must now re-train our minds to budget for this tax as part of your wedding budget as it can have such a huge impact on your overall spending.  If you aren’t working with a wedding planner its important to ask vendors when you meet what taxes they will now be forced to charge so you get a clear and accurate picture of what you’ll be expected to pay.

 The new HST will be applied to:

- Venue

- Florals & Decor

- Catered Meals

- Photography/Videography

- DJ/Band

- Wedding Officiants

 Cool Find: Your wedding cake is HST exempt!

 Ways to Save:

- Consider an off-season wedding (a lot of venues do not consider Nov-Dec off season as its the season for corporate parties and galas), instead aim for Jan-Mar

- Destination weddings

- Menus (why not try a cocktail style service or stations)

- Since you can’t dis-invite the HST you may want to try reducing your guestlist elsewhere – bringing down your headcount is the FASTEST way to close the holes in your pockets!

- Consider seasonal florals and decor

 Happy Planning from the AWE Team!


The Importance of Customization – Creating the perfect Bridal Lehnga

CTC West | South Asian Bridal & Formal Wear

It is definitely Bridal Season!  As we speak, North America’s 2010 and 2011 Brides are surfing the web, analyzing what the stars are wearing and scouring bridal boutiques in honour of one of the greatest internal debates – what should they wear on their wedding day!?!

At CTC West, we generally find that the “perfect outfit” rarely exists online, or in a bridal wear store.  Quite often, the PERFECT outfit… is yet to be made.

On her wedding day, a bride should be entitled to wear an outfit that fits, feels and falls the way Goldilocks would have it – jussssst right!  This is definitely not the day to be compromising on clothing!

As a bride, your wedding lehnga needs to be made up of all the right elements.  The right design, the right fabric, the right colour.  The right blouse cut with straps or sleeves that accentuate your features.  The right length and shape and cut for your lehnga skirt to make you feel like a modern-day Empress.  The elements should be perfect, and thankfully, you no longer need to settle on a make-shift solution!

At CTC West, we feel that if a lehnga is too long for a bride, the solution is not to simply cut an inch or two off the top – that’s like cutting the forehead off of the Mona Lisa!  You would lose the border or an element of design that ties the bottom of your lehnga into your blouse.  Your outfit is an art piece, and your body is the designer’s canvas.

The CTC West Custom Couture Experience ushers in a new era in South Asian Bridal Wear.  When you find a CTC West design that you are IN LOVE WITH, we make a brand new and unique piece just for you. Take a look at an example of the CTC West Custom Couture Experience below.

For more information on ordering your custom bridal wear, visit us online at CTC