1 Choosing flowers
It's important to find a florist you feel comfortable with. Take tons of magazine pictures as inspiration, but allow your florist some creative freedom. I had my heart set on my favourite flowers, tulips, which helped me decide to have the wedding in February, the height of tulip season. Floral designer Michael Pellegrino persuaded me to reconsider the tulips, warning that they tend to open in cut arrangements -- but he still created a gorgeous tulip bouquet for me. Be prepared for changes closer to the event and consider a trial centrepiece. Michael wasn't happy with the available quince branches, so designer and event expert David Overholt suggested dendrobium orchids tied to birch branches. These worked with the 185 azaleas Michael arranged along the perimeter of the conservatory.
2 Work with an event coordinator
Whether you're looking for a few hours of consultation or someone to plan the entire event, an event coordinator has been through it all and will suggest ideas or details you might overlook. David Overholt proposed nixing the head table to save space. Instead, he positioned three large tables in the centre of the room for the bridal party and family, surrounded by a sea of smaller tables for friends and more family. David wanted no surprises -- even the caterers' shoes and uniforms were important.
On the wedding day, there was no one whom I depended on more to make sure everything went off without a hitch, well, maybe one hitch!
3 Signature style
A little imagination is all it takes to personalize your wedding day. The delicate quince blossoms printed on our invitations set the tone and scheme of our wedding -- pretty and classic, with creams, celadons and a smattering of pink. Since I was marrying into a Greek family, instead of numbering tables, we used names of the Greek islands. I wanted guests to have a bonbonnière they could use, so everyone received two petite bud vases. When planning, be aware of your venue's regulations. Two weeks before the date, I discovered open flames weren't permitted; IKEA came to the rescue with 600 Diod glasses used as tea light holders.
4 The menu
The first caterer I went to kept telling me about his own wedding and what he thought I should and shouldn't do. That made it easy to choose Presidential Gourmet, as the first thing president Peter Carruthers said to me was, “It's your day, tell me what you want.” I wanted delicious food, with some Greek cuisine mixed in, to honour Chris's heritage. Don't be afraid to customize your menu. Our hors d'oeuvres included lamb chops and spanakopita, and the tables were set with olives and goat cheese before guests entered the dining area. Too busy to sample our gigantic sweet table topped with baklava and milopita, I savoured every bite of our petite chocolate cone with raspberry sorbet dessert!
5 A venue to remember
When choosing a site, especially if you're customizing your day, be sure to ask questions about rentals (we rented everything from the bar to the linens), curfews, noise by-laws, corkage fees and restrictions on decorations. And consider if you want the reception to immediately follow the ceremony, as we did. It was essential not only that the site accommodate our 150-person guest list, but that there was also a dance floor steps away from the dining area for after-dinner Greek dancing. With its magnificent glass dome, Casa Loma's conservatory was the perfect place for our ceremony, as was the library for the evening reception.