Welcome to Great Occasions Wedding Coordination and congratulations on your engagement and upcoming nuptials!

WPIC certified, based in Dauphin serving the Parkland and beyond, let us connect to see how we can take the weight off of your special day so you can savour the moment.

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Choosing a Wedding Venue (Location)

The proposal was a success and the planning has begun! Next you’ll likely be looking to determine the wedding date and preferred venue (place of ceremony or reception), and these will likely coincide.

The first venue to secure will be for the ceremony. If not in a church, there are many other possibilities:

  • Banquet halls
  • Hotel ballrooms
  • Golf and country clubs
  • Museum, Heritage venues/estates, historical house or building
  • Parks (federal, provincial, municipal)
  • Home, backyard, cottage, farm
  • Public/private garden
  • Beach
  • Boat
  • Theatre
  • Festival grounds
  • Airplane hangar
  • Ethnic/cultural centre
  • Art gallery
  • Zoo
  • Restaurants
  • Nightclub
  • Legions
  • Mansion
  • Tented weddings
  • Amusement park
  • College or University
  • Some other special place to the couple
  • Destination wedding

Source: The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc., wpic.ca

Many of these same options apply for the reception venue. The most important details for picking your reception venue will be:

  • Availability on desired date?
  • Your guest count/max capacity
  • Budget
  • Distance
  • Accessibility
  • Ease (will you need to bring in rented chairs, portable toilet trailers? Is this a location that would have to change in case of poor weather?)

The next questions to ask of a potential venue may include:

  • Is the venue licenced to serve alcohol? If not, the couple must acquire a Special Occasions Permit and assign a permit holder, who, at the time of this post, has several responsibilities, such as being present for the entire event, ensuring alcohol is not consumed by minors or those who are already intoxicated, and not allowing disorderly people around the premises (for more information, see liquor permit terms and conditions at mylgca.ca).
  • What is included in the rental? You will need: tables, chairs, plates, glassware (glasses for toasting, water goblets, mugs for coffee and tea), salt & pepper shakers, cream and sugars, silverware, linens, perhaps a podium, microphone, projector and screen. Are these items available on site? Are they extra to rent?
  • What do the tables and chairs look like? Get measurements of the tables for seating arrangement planning and for tablecloth rentals. Tip: It maybe less labour-intensive and cost the same to rent nicer chairs instead of getting chair covers.
  • Are you permitted to decorate yourself, or does the venue only allow approved decorators?
  • If there is existing décor, can it be removed? Does it have a cost for usage?
  • How many days in advance of the wedding can the couple start setting up?
  • What caterers are permitted to use the space? Will they offer late lunch too? What service styles does that caterer offer?
  • How many washrooms are there?
  • Is there a wheelchair ramp (and elevator if applicable?)
  • How much is corkage? How much are bartenders?

Use these checklists to help weigh your options when choosing your wedding venues.

Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Dress

Wedding dress shopping is very exciting, and something you may have been dreaming of since the engagement. It is easy to get swept up in the excitement; a little preparation beforehand can save you making decisions in the heat of the moment. Here are some tips when looking for that perfect gown.

Plan ahead

You will need to book appointments with the salons you plan to shop at; this will help ensure there will be a change room for you and a store attendant to help you. Budget at least 2.5-3 hours per place, especially for the first store. Give yourself lots of time so you are not making decisions in a rush. Bring water for you and your bride tribe. Shopping for the wedding dress 9-12 months before the wedding is common advice; it can take five months to order in your dress and you will need time for alterations.

You will also need to make an appointment for bridesmaid dress shopping. I brought white tanks and little white shorts for my bridesmaids to wear for easy changing when we did not have access to the change room (see the first tip!).

Wear slip on shoes as you will likely have to remove them in the store.

Wear appropriate undergarments, an assistant will likely be helping you a lot in the change room.


The first thing you will be asked when you enter a store is if you have a budget (and a preferred designer, though not required). When determining this value, remember that the cost of the dress is just the beginning.

In 2017, the average spent on bridal attire was $17411.Beyond the dress, there is perhaps also hair accessories, veil, belt, jewelry, shoes, and undergarments: special bra, lingerie, shape wear, crinoline to add volume, slips, garter, etc. At the time of this writing, alterations can easily add another $300-500.  Also, be prepared to pay another $150-350 for dry cleaning after the wedding depending on number of layers and complexity of the dress, and $75 to preserve the gown in a vacuum sealed box (rates of course will vary in your town or city).

Know that you will likely be paying half the price of the gown when you order.

Some stores may offer cheaper dresses, but then pair them with corsets and crinoline under layers to enhance the dress. This may offset any savings, and add extra layers that add warmth or discomfort.

Another option to save money is used dresses:


Think about the time of year you are getting married, especially if the wedding is outdoors. Ask the bridal consultant which materials are lighter and more breathable for summer weddings. Under garments, such as shape wear, slips, and crinoline may add warmth.

Consider hemming generously if you will be dancing all night. Despite meticulous measuring and dancing during my fitting, I still stepped on my dress all night – even though it was properly tied (it likely relaxed over the evening). Looking back, I would have boldly taken another inch off the bottom of my dress. So what if my toes peeped out?

The dress must also be comfortable while you try it on. Any boning that is poking you under your arms, or sequins that are rubbing the wrong way after three minutes is going to be a major pain point after hours of wear (although sequins can probably be easily removed).


Be open minded, you may have your heart set on A-line, and fall in love with mermaid. Some dresses will look limp on the hanger yet stunning on you. Do not forget you can add sequins, beads, etc, to jazz up a gown.

When you find the one, take some pictures in it (that your spouse will not find!). Use these photos when shopping for accessories or to show your florist, hair stylist, and make up artist.

Politely ensure your store orders the correct size. Double check. I hear brides speculate that the wrong size was ordered to scam them into alterations.

Hopefully this post had some helpful pointers, wishing you an amazing shopping experience! Have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

  1. RateSupermarket.ca. The Cost of Love in Canada. (Feb 4, 2017). Retrieved Dec 10, 2018 from https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/blog/the-cost-of-love-in-canada-2017/

Choosing an Engagement Ring

Photo credit: Sara Taplin Photography

Congratulations! You’re [likely] here because you have found someone you want to be with for the rest of your life. It’s a major decision and you probably put a lot of thought into it; now some thoughts on the ring.

Practicality: It’s easy to think that bigger is better, and the iconic engagement ring is typically high-set (i.e diamond jutting out from the band). However, a high-set stone can bang on everything and be hard on surfaces: scratching a fridge when reaching around the handle, or perhaps, in the future, scratching the surface underneath a baby (e.g. bathtub, plastic crib mattress) when picking the baby up. A low-set ring with no sharp edges or protruding stones can have the advantage of not catching on hair, sweaters, bathroom towels, etc.

Does your significant other work in healthcare, food service, or somewhere else where rings are not allowed (e.g. working with moving parts)? Some workplaces may limit to a smooth band with no stones; would it be important to your significant other to wear the ring at work, or as much of the time as possible for that matter? 

At the Jeweler: Consider buying the band shortly after the ring. If the jeweler closes or stops selling that set, it can be extra costly to get a wedding band custom made to fit the engagement ring.

Warranty: If debating whether to get a warranty or lifetime guarantee, ask what would happen to the warranty if:

  • You moved out of province, or across the country to an area without that store brand
  • You moved out of country
  • The store closed

A warranty may require cleaning and inspection of the rings every 6 months, this is something to ponder if you live rural or far from the supplier. Think 5 years from now, 10 years from now….

Cost: Likely top of mind for the buyer, but listed last due to this likely unpopular opinion (i.e. an engagement ring that is much less than the average $4,9001). Does your significant other value the cost of the ring most? Do you feel pressure to spend a lot on a ring to signify status? Factor in the cost of the matching wedding band as well, plus your wedding band which can easily be $700-$1000 without any stones. Also consider that the average price of a wedding in Canada was $39,414 (excluding honeymoon) in 20171, and this ring is just the first purchase!

The difference saved choosing a less expensive ring could be a vacation, debt paid, savings set aside, or other coveted purchase.

While this is far from official research, for the fun of it, here’s a poll on what matters in a ring to the recipient.


Other: Don’t fret too much about getting the exact size, it can be resized later. Better to have the ring be slightly too loose than a first engagement photo with a ring that only slides down halfway! Some couples even go engagement ring shopping together, which takes the pressure of choosing *the ring he/she will love most* off of the proposer. Hey, the recipient has to wear it for the rest of their life! Hopefully you found some unique or helpful perspectives in here. For far more comprehensive and systematic advice on choosing an engagement ring, Ramit Sethi’s stellar blog post is worth the read. Good luck!

  1. RateSupermarket.ca. The Cost of Love in Canada. (Feb 4, 2017). Retrieved Dec 2, 2018, from: https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/blog/the-cost-of-love-in-canada-2017/