Expert Advice – Bridal Guideline

As you begin to plan your wedding, read through the following information for helpful hints and advice. Use the index below to advance to the category you’re interested in quickly.

  • Bombonieres
  • Bridal Consultants
  • Bridal Gown
  • Bridesmaids
  • Budget Ideas
  • Cakes
  • Catering
  • Church Programs
  • Decorations
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Floral Preservation Flowers
  • Formal Wear
  • Giftware Registries
  • Hair & Esthetics
  • Honeymoon
  • Invitations
  • Jewellery
  • Lingerie
  • Marriage License
  • Marriage Preparation Courses
  • Music Party Rentals
  • Photography
  • The Reception
  • Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal Dinner
  • Shoes
  • Showers
  • Transportation
  • Videographer
  • Wedding Announcements


Bombonieres: Table Favours

Bomboniere is the Italian name for favors. Traditionally, they are a keepsake for wedding guests to take home. However, this also applies to showers and special parties as well. These favors may be candied almonds, mints, chocolates or even something more contemporary such as candles, and may be given with or without giftware. Presented in a fancy box or beautiful wrapping, personalized with the bride and groom’s name & date, the party favors represent love, health, and happiness. Bridal Consultants

With the hectic pace we sometimes lead, more and more brides are turning to bridal consultants. Bridal consultants can provide help and expert advice for part of the planning process or help to coordinate the entire wedding from selecting the florist to booking the honeymoon.

Bridal consultants are familiar with several retailers in each category and can match your preferences with the retailer that will do the best job. It can save you a great deal of time and often money using a consultant who is an expert in his/her field & who deals with reliable services on an ongoing basis.

Some consultants will charge a flat fee no matter how complicated the event, while there are others who will not charge you directly but receive a referral fee from the retailers booked.

It is important that you establish with your consultant what type of budget you are working with well in advance. You should also decide on how formal the event will be.


Bridal Gown

The selection of your wedding gown is one of the most exciting and enjoyable aspects of your wedding planning. This is your opportunity to indulge in your fantasy. To make it a happy event, do not over burden yourself with seeing and trying on too many gowns in one day. Take your time. If you are going to be looking at several salons, spread it over a few days. It is often recommended to make an appointment to allow the consultant to devote her undivided attention to you.

Like any new bride, you have probably purchased several bridal magazines. Take the pictures of the gowns you prefer with you to the salons. The bridal consultant can certainly help select the gown which most resembles the picture if they do not have the exact manufacturer’s design in stock. When choosing your gown, look at the care label, so when you take your gown to be dry cleaned, there will be clear instructions.

If you choose to have your gown custom made, give yourself as much time in advance as possible, anywhere from six to nine months. The selection of style, fabric, and detail can be time-consuming. Many brides decide they are going to start their fitness program before the wedding. Whether it be to lose a few pounds or to tone up, let the consultant know this in advance. This way they can make allowances for any alterations that may need to be done. It is much simpler to take in a dress that is too big than to find you don’t have sufficient material the month before. Several fittings are recommended.

Some brides choose to wear a bridal gown that has been passed down from generation to generation in their family. Several dressmakers & dry cleaners specialize in restoring wedding gowns & completing alterations to make the gown look as if it were brand new.

Many of the bridal salons also carry the accessories to complement the dress of your choice. Ask to see their selection of veils, jewelry, gloves, & shoes. Try not to leave these decisions to the last minute for there will be many other details to look after.


Upon deciding on your wedding gown, you can now begin the task of the bridesmaid dresses. This can often be a more difficult job and more time consuming than selecting your gown. You now have several body types, personalities, hair and skin colors to consider.

While many brides have an idea of the type of bridesmaid dresses, they would like, asking for your bridesmaids’ input can relieve a great deal of the stress on everyone. One bride decided to take her bridesmaids to the store specializing in evening wear and let them choose amongst themselves what style they would like. While she had the ultimate vote, they all agreed upon a dress which they felt they could each wear again.

If you choose to have a ring bearer and flower girl in your bridal party let them choose the clothing they will wear. They will be more comfortable and hence perform better.

Budget Ideas

• Rent dresses
• Use home of a friend
• Hand-done invitation
• Borrow cake knife
• Rent cake
• Daytime reception
• Weeknight reception
• Flowers for church also used for reception
• Choose shoes that could be worn again
• Borrow a friend or relatives car
• Make own appetizers

The cutting of the wedding cake is an event not to be missed. It is a symbol of a lifetime of sharing as the bridal couple, with arms intertwined, offer each other a piece of the wedding cake.

You are no longer limited by the traditional fruitcake, as bakers create a variety of flavors and styles. The baker you have selected may specialize in particular flavors, so be sure to ask for samples. Many bakers can also duplicate a cake from a photograph or picture.

As an alternative to the plastic bride and groom perched atop the wedding cake, consider an arrangement of fresh flowers, or porcelain cherubs. Make arrangements for delivery of the cake & storage at the reception facility.

If you choose to make the cake yourself, some bakers will complete the icing, marzipan and decorate for you. They can even supply you with the materials necessary to bake the cake. When ordering your cake, be sure to ask for an additional section of the cake if you plan to give each guest a wrapped piece as they leave the reception. If you plan on keeping the best tier of your cake to be shared on your first anniversary, ask your baker how it should be properly stored to maintain its freshness.



Whether it be the intimate garden reception for 30 or a formal sit-down dinner for 500, this will most likely be the largest party you will ever host. When selecting your caterer, don’t just look at the price per head. Review the different menu selections & don’t be afraid to substitute between them. Many caterers provide lists as a guideline and will then personalize them to suit your preferences. Some will even let you and your groom sample the menu you have selected.

Presentation of the food is also an important aspect, so ask to see photographs of previous receptions. Pure cheese and meat trays can look truly elegant if presented with style and imagination.

Also, consider the dietary requirements of your guests. If choosing a sit-down dinner, be aware of any vegetarian requirements or specific health-related restrictions. With so much attention drawn these days to dietary control, the option of a buffet allows you to satisfy almost everyone’s palate. An important question to ask your caterer is if they will coordinate all of the service staff and party rentals. They may even recommend a specific party rental supplier. This can eliminate the task of cleaning everything up the day after, when everyone in the family may be recuperating from the previous evening’s celebrations.


Church Programs

The majority of your wedding guests will appreciate a program for the ceremony. The program is custom designed and includes information on the readings, hymns, wedding vows and may list the members of the bridal party. It also provides a memorable keepsake.


Balloons can create a festive and truly elegant atmosphere with a variety of colors to coordinate with your color theme. Consider balloons as an attractive alternative to table centerpieces on the reception tables. A spectacular arch backdrop for the head table can also create a dramatic effect as guests enter the reception hall. Although you can rent a helium tank and blow up the balloons yourselves, some couples find this an extra responsibility the morning of the wedding which they would prefer to avoid. Having the balloons done by a professional can alleviate the worry of whether they will last throughout the day and into the evening. Keep in mind that helium balloons have a short lifespan. Some companies even carry balloons which are bio-degradable.

When decorating the church pews, you can use fresh flowers or paper ribbon to create an elegant effect as you walk down the aisle.

Dry Cleaning

You’ve just spent months and months of preparation to celebrate one of the biggest events in your life, and you are ready to run off on your honeymoon. Before you leave, however, it is necessary to know that one of your cherished keepsakes of that special day is looked after – your wedding gown. Designate a family member to take your wedding gown immediately to a dry cleaner specializing in the dry cleaning of wedding gowns. With your gown being a huge investment, you will want to ensure it is cleaned and preserved for years ahead as it may be requested to be worn again some twenty years from now.
Make a note of any stains on the gown and the source of the stain. If possible when purchasing your wedding gown, check to see that the gown has a care label, or that you are given written cleaning instructions. Careful attention must be given to the pearl beads or sequins, as they have been known to break down in the cleaning process.
There are variations in the cleaning and preservation of gowns. The gown can be hung in plastic or wrapped in tissue paper and boxed. Your choice of treatment will depend on whether you sell or hold onto the gown to pass on to another family member.




After choosing a florist, meet with them early in the wedding planning process. You will need to discuss with them the color theme of your bridal party, the detail in your wedding dress, the season of your wedding and the style of your wedding, whether it be formal or informal. Bring in a sample and picture of your wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses if possible.

As you begin to finalize your wedding details, you could then narrow down the selection of flowers for your bridal party bouquets and table centerpieces. You could even have fresh flowers on your wedding cake. When selecting a flower arrangement for your flower girl, keep in mind the size of the bouquet about her size so as not to overpower her.

A helpful idea to save money is by choosing to reuse the flower arrangements which decorate the church for the wedding reception as well. Make sure you either delegate this responsibility in advance to someone with a large car or van or ask your florist to make arrangements for the transfer.

The florist can also coordinate the delivery of the corsages to the bride’s home and the boutonnieres to where the groom is staying. Don’t forget to include your officiant, organist, grandparents, and special family members if your budget permits.

Floral Preservation

Your wedding flowers are a special part of one of the most memorable days you will live to know. Imagine reminiscing about your special wedding day several years later and being able to tell your children, “Those are the flowers I carried down the aisle when I married your father.” The beauty and memories that flowers bring us carry a particular sentimental value to each of us, now we can preserve them and capture those memories forever.

With several methods of flower preservation available today, you will be able to create a one of a kind of wedding day keepsake to treasure all the wonderful years to come.

Some methods include silica gel crystalline, press flower preservation and freeze drying. — Each unique in their preservation method. To ensure the quality In proper preservation techniques, it is recommended to place orders, and inquiry’s before your wedding day to learn the pre-flower preservation care instruction and to ensure space availability.

Formal Wear

Renting tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen is a common tradition. There is a variety of formal attire available ranging from black tie, white tie to morning coat. Many grooms prefer to have a say in this particular selection process of the wedding planning. Once your groom has selected the basic tux, you can now resume your input in color coordinating the cummerbunds with the colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses. It is important that the groom and groomsmen do not upstage the bridal gown.

If members of the bridal party are coming from out of town, measurement guidelines should be phoned or faxed well in advance. Most formal wear companies have shoes to rent with the tuxedos.


Giftware Registries

Gift giving to the bridal couple has taken on new meaning in the past ten years, with the development of the Gift Registry. As people have less free time to shop for that ultimate wedding gift, they are quite relieved to discover that the bride has pre-registered at one or more stores of her choice. It also eliminates a situation where the wedding couple receives six unwanted toaster ovens which cannot be returned.

Most stores now have bridal consultants that can assist the bride and groom in their selection of a china pattern, which can then coordinate with crystal, flatware, and table linens. By registering a variety of items, guests may select from a variety of prices. Nothing is more discouraging than for a guest only to be able to afford one crystal wine goblet.

Many stores also have computerized systems allowing their stores to be linked up across Canada, or provide toll-free numbers to make shopping convenient for out of town guests.

Let your guests know that you have pre-registered either through the use of announcement cards on the wedding invitation or by word of mouth through family and friends. Most guests will appreciate knowing your tastes in advance of their purchase and will feel their dollars were well spent. After the wedding, you can review the items selected and make substitutions for items to best complete your sets. Upon opening gifts for the shower or wedding, ensure that someone is recording who the gift is from so that you can send personalized thank you notes concerning the gift.


Hair & Esthetics

This is the time to pamper yourself, on this special day since you will want to look your best. Book your appointment to see your hairdresser months in advance of the wedding. This gives you ample time to restyle, cut or grow out your current hairstyle without sending both yourself and your groom into shock the day you walk down the aisle. If you plan to have a facial done, do so a month in advance to prevent any unwanted skin reactions.

When you receive your headpiece, have your hairstylist do a trial run to ensure it will remain well in place. Some hairstylists will even come to your home the day of the wedding. Be sure to pack a small touch-up kit including brush, pins, and hairspray.

The same goes for having your makeup done. While you will want to look as natural as possible, consult with the makeup artist before your wedding day. With your photos preserving your memories you will not want your makeup to overpower the total look or have you washed out. Your face deserves as much attention and pre-planning as the other aspects of your wedding.


You’ve thanked your last guest, danced the final song and probably haven’t seen your groom for a good part of the evening. Now it’s time for the honeymoon! this is when your married life together begins, so you will want to make it extra special. Whether you decide to whisk away on an evening flight to the honeymoon destination of your choice or to wait until morning, the perfect honeymoon requires good planning.

Start by looking for travel companies which specialize in honeymoon planning. Since you will be spending a lot of time on planning the wedding, using a professional to plan your honeymoon will ensure you the ultimate vacation. They take that special effort to make your honeymoon romantic, exciting & memorable.

A romantic honeymoon vacation is a cruise vacation. Made popular by the television series “The Love Boat,” you can find cruise boats that cater to the young honeymooner. Often newlyweds don’t consider the cruise honeymoon because of the price, however, when you look at the total package, a cruise can be less expensive than a land package at a resort.

With a cruise honeymoon, the final price includes meals, entertainment, and transportation. With resorts, these are often unexpected costs which are not included in the base price of accommodations and airfare. This can be misleading.

With a cruise, you also have the opportunity to see several Caribbean Islands in one trip, with all of the arrangements done for you. No matter which honeymoon vacation you choose, start planning early to ensure that you have the honeymoon vacation of your dreams!



The selection of your wedding invitations helps announce the formality of your wedding to your guests. Chosen at least three months before your wedding day, there is a vast selection of styles available.

From the formal & traditional engraved invitation to the handwritten casual invitation, the format you choose is an expression of your style. Invitations catalogs may help you to choose a style so that the only decision needing to be noted is the ink color and lettering style. If you choose to design your invitation some stores provide the services of a calligrapher for custom work. A digital calligraphy service can also do a professional job.

There is also a wide selection of types of paper available such as parchment, rice paper, and glossies. Invitation stores also tend to supply guests books, napkins, matches, and plume pens.

Remember to mail out of town invitations well in advance. It is also a good idea to include a map for those guests who may not be familiar with the area.



You may be familiar with the advertisement of selecting “a girl’s best friend”, the diamond, which suggests the cost should be the equivalent of two months salary. While some men would shudder at such an expense, the tradition of the diamond goes back to 1477. The Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Princess Mary of Burgundy, representing his undying love. And in ancient times, it was thought that the third finger of the left hand had the vein which ran right to the heart. Hence it became known as the ring finger.

Make yourself aware of the 4 C’s, as this is what ultimately determines the cost of the ring.

CUT refers to the arrangement of the diamond facets. Common cuts include round, oval, brilliant, marquise, heart, pear and emerald.

CARAT refers to the weight, with one karat made up of 100 points. While size may be a factor in determining value, two stones of equal size may not be of equal value.

CLARITY: refers to a number of flaws in the stone. These flaws, called inclusions, are usually difficult to detect by the untrained eye. The fewer flaws there are, the more brilliant the diamond is, and the more expensive it is.

COLOUR: the more colorless the diamond, the more valuable it becomes, as light can pass through it more easily.

An alternative to purchasing a diamond is the passing down of family heirlooms. Old gold from rings no longer worn by a family member could be redesigned into a special wedding band. If a designer is used, it is recommended that you discuss your lifestyle so that a perfect ring is created. Wedding bands for grooms have also become more elaborate than the traditional gold wedding band and could also include a small diamond.

While you walk down the aisle, you will want to feel both beautiful and comfortable in the apparel you wear beneath your gown. Select lingerie that reflects your style, while giving you the ultimate feeling of romance. When shopping for your lingerie, bring in a picture of your wedding gown to ensure it will be properly fitted. Do not wait until the last week to buy your lingerie as it is important to wear it to all of your gown fittings. This is the time for you to splurge on elegant lingerie for both the wedding day and your honeymoon.

Marriage License

It is a requirement in British Columbia for couples getting married to obtain a Marriage License. The application must be made in person by the Bride or Groom, at any Government Agent Office in B.C. or certain Notaries Public. A fee is charged, and proper identification is required. The license is usually provided immediately upon application. For more information and to confirm these details, please contact the British Columbia Department of Vital Statistics at 1-800-663-8328.

Marriage Preparation Courses

Couples spend months and in some cases years in planning for their wedding day, yet when it comes to planning for their marriage many couples enter into it blindly. While in some religions it is a requirement, pre-marriage courses are recommended for any couple getting married for the first time or even the third time regardless of their denomination.

A common misconception is that these courses focus mainly on religion. This is not the case. They are an excellent way to open the lines of communication between couples, perhaps bringing up topics not yet discussed between them. Courses are offered in single sessions or lasting up to six weeks and help to prepare couples for some of the realities they face ahead. Topics range from money management to the roles each person will assume, even to discussing sexuality.

These courses also help teach couples effective communication, giving them the skills necessary to face the challenges that may lie ahead.


Your choice of music sets the mood before the wedding ceremony. As guests are seated, consider an organist, with two or three different songs that you have chosen which reflect your feelings about this special ceremony. A flutist or soloist can also add an elegant touch to the bride walking down the aisle. When choosing a musician, listen to a variety of their selections, to help ensure that the music is tailored to your wishes. Some musicians will send you a tape upon request.

Selecting the music for the reception, whether live or recorded, allows you to create the atmosphere for the evening. Consider your wedding guests’ ages and music preferences to ensure everyone enjoys the evening. Your aunts and uncles may not stay for long if all they hear is the top 40. Ask for referrals from previous customers or perhaps you could hear them live. Make sure you ask about the extras, such as how long they play, overtime costs, and whether you need to provide food for the musicians. Have the musician contact the reception facility to make sure there are adequate space and services for equipment. Other fun possibilities for music include having a Karaoke session as part of your entertainment.


Party Rentals

A visit to a store specializing in complete party rentals is a must if you are planning a garden or home wedding or for the reception hall. Check with your caterer as they will be familiar with the reliable companies and will have worked with them in the past. You will need to tell them how many guests, whether it is a cocktail reception or buffet, and what facilities you have for heating and serving.

Most party rental stores container supply you with chairs, tables, linens in various colors, china, crystal, silverware, and coffee makers. Also, you can rent candelabras, arches, canopies, and plant stands. Note, you will be paying from the time you pick up the items until they are returned. Be sure to check their policy on breakage and whether the glass and dishes are to be returned clean.



Photographs capture the romance and excitement of your wedding and help to preserve the memories of this important day! Your wedding day photos require the skill of an experienced wedding photographer. They will be on time, organized, and take wonderful portraits that show you at your very best. Their experience ensures that they work quickly under pressure, anticipating opportunities that create priceless candids. Avoid depending on a friend with a camera. You may be left with an album filled with regrets!

Once you have reviewed the portfolio of your chosen photographer, check to see that it is that particular photographer who will be doing the shoot for your wedding day. As the weather can alter your plans to have your photos done outdoors, ask if your photographer is prepared to do an indoor shoot if necessary. It is also important that both you and the groom are comfortable with the personality of the photographer.

Compile a list of “not to be missed” photographs, such as photos with parents and grandparents. If you plan on having someone videotape your wedding, let the photographer know, as they may have to coordinate at various times to avoid interference with one another. Also, give each of them an agenda of the day so they won’t miss any special moments on film.

A wedding brings with it family members from all over the world to join in the celebration. This is one of the few occasions where everyone is in one location for a day or more. It is an opportune time to take that Family Portrait you’ve always talked about. It is also the time when everyone is looking their best. Plan a scheduled time to take a photograph, perhaps the day before the wedding, by a professional photographer.

The Reception

As there are only so many weekends in the year available, it is a good idea to reserve your wedding reception site as early as possible. It is not uncommon for some locations to be booked a year in advance. While your site selection is a reflection of your style, it is also dependent upon the location of the ceremony. As many guests are often coming from out of town, the distance between the two locations should be convenient. Even while the bridal party is taking photos, guests will look for a place to spend the hour or so in between the ceremony and reception.

Another consideration in site selection is the number of guests. Hotels usually have a variety of banquet rooms and can accommodate both smaller intimate weddings as well as the larger deluxe size weddings. Halls and reception amenities may be more limited in space but may provide a more interesting & unique atmosphere. Considering halls, check to see that there is ample room for the musicians and dancing if you are planning to include it. Also, ensure that there are adequate kitchen facilities for your caterer. Inquire about any candlelight restrictions & specific decorating regulations. You often have a choice of catering services when booking halls & some will even provide you with a list.

Having both the ceremony and reception at home is also a fantastic choice. While you may not be able to host a sit-down dinner for 100, a cocktail reception following the ceremony can be both very intimate and sometimes less costly. Make settlements for parking if there will be some guests with cars. It is a good idea to let your neighbors know in advance.

A further alternative for a reception site and well suited to the Westcoast lifestyle is to host your wedding at sea. Both ceremony and reception can be held together with yachts accommodating both small and large gatherings.


A few days before the wedding, often the evening before, a rehearsal is held to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly. If possible, all members of the bridal party, parents, ushers and any musicians or soloists should be present. Your clergy member will assist you in the general format of the welding procedures. It is important that you express any special touches that you wish to include at this time.

Usually hosted by the groom’s parents, the rehearsal dinner may be held at a restaurant or home. It not only thanks, everyone in the bridal party, but also gives everyone a chance to interact and get to know one another before your big day. The tradition of having the bride’s parents pay for the entire wedding is no longer etched in stone. People are waiting longer before marrying or may be at their second wedding. More and more couples are contributing significantly to the cost of the wedding, if not paying for it entirely. It is wise to discuss this with both sets of parents so that there are no last minute surprises.



Your choice of shoes should complement your wedding gown with an emphasis, however, on comfort. You will be on your feet for a good number of hours both standing, walking, & dancing. Fabric shoes can be dyed later to match different dresses in your collection.


A shower planned one to two months before the wedding can be a fun event for both bride and groom. These days it is popular to host jack and jill showers where both bride and groom are honored. This gives all of your friends and family a fortune to get together in a relaxed & enjoyable atmosphere. It is no longer necessary to have the traditional shower or tea party format. For the shower often a theme is selected such as a lingerie shower, wine shower, CD shower, or a furnishing the kitchen shower. The choices are endless. Whoever is planning to host the shower should consult with the bridal pair as to what type of party to host, & of course, who to invite. Those invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding. Don’t forget to notify out of town family members about the shower. Although they most likely won’t be able to attend, they will probably want to send a gift. Bridesmaids who may attend several of your showers should know it is not necessary to bring presents to each shower.


Hiring a limousine service will ensure you arrive at the church on time, hopefully, wrinkle-free, and that your wedding day runs smoothly. Pulling up in a white stretch limousine is the ultimate in the princes’ style dream wedding. Whether you book limos for the entire bridal party or not may most likely depend on your budget. Be sure, however, to book the service well in advance and get written confirmation of the reservation.

Other alternatives to the traditional limousine service include using antique or sports cars from family or friends, horse, and carriage if the distance is not far and only renting the more luxurious cars such as a Fifth Avenue, Ferarri or Mercedes Benz. If you plan on having someone decorate the car, check with the rental company if there are any restrictions. You can now buy pom poms which are placed on by suction cups rather than tape.

For out of town guests, ask family or friends to help with transportation both to and from both the ceremony and reception.


Videotaping is becoming increasingly more popular as a way to capture all of the highlights the camera can sometimes miss. The notion of someone standing amidst the bride and groom with bright lights and endless cords is a thing of the past as the modern equipment available allows for little interference. Prepare a script of events you would like to be covered. It is easier for the videographer to edit out unnecessary footage than to have him/her miss you tossing the bridal bouquet because he/she wasn’t prepared for it. The addition of special effects such as music and lighting can also create a movie-like memory.

Wedding Announcements

To inform those personalities who won’t be attending your wedding, it is acceptable to put an engagement announcement in the newspaper. This is often done one month before your wedding day. A black & white head to shoulder photo is best.


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