With wedding shows all temporarily on hold thanks to a certain global pandemic you may have heard of, the good people at Le Coeur Bohème have come to the rescue with a one-of-a-kind festival not to be missed!
The Coeur Bohème Festival promises two days, two distinct conferences, two completely different schedules filled with activities, discussions, tips and a host of other interactions that focus on helping you plan your dream wedding. You’ll have the chance to meet and discuss with a wide list of local suppliers, passionate about their trades and who will help you stand out from the traditional weddings.
The Coeur Bohème Festival sounds like it’s going to be a great event helping couples to answer their biggest questions regarding the organization of their wedding, and all from the comfort of their home!
That’s not all, what is a wedding festival without a little excitement? Le Coeur Bohème tell us they also have a few surprises waiting for you!
Follow Le Coeur Bohème on Instagram for complete festival details including what you could expect as a virtual participant, as well as a chance to be amongst the first couples to qualify for our pre-sale!
Montreal is a mecca for wedding dress shopping, with something for every bride, at every budget. Here’s where to find the best stores in and around the Montreal area
Finding the perfect wedding dress is a tricky task – but the sheer number of fantastic wedding dress stores in Montreal means you’re guaranteed to find the dress of your dreams.
From flagship designer stores to independent boutiques, from timeless classics to contemporary couture, and whatever your budget, there’s something for every bride.
If you’re after a beaded Jenny Packham gown that would make Kate Middleton envious to a vintage-inspired dress, we can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
And not all wedding dresses are white! We’ve seen dresses in almost every colour. And what about this floral wedding dress that Briony wore for her day?! Beautiful, right?
Or this gorgeous dress that Dominique chose for her marriage to Matt?
This black wedding dress that Janis wore for her elopement with Ethan is also absolutely amazing and so unique. Doesn’t she look fantastic?
We also loved this stunning dress that Maud-Laure wore for her wedding at a private chalet in Bolton, Quebec.
We know that saying yes to a wedding dress can be both exciting and slightly terrifying. It’s going to be part of your big day, after all. And while most brides may have anidea of what they want their wedding dress to look like, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options.
So, we asked brides which wedding dress stores they’d be happy to recommend to their friends. We then asked wedding vendors for the dress shops they thought were the best in the Montreal area, and we compiled a list of what we believe are the best wedding dress stores in Montreal.
We asked each store to tell us more about their services and, of course, to share their designs.
Wedding Dress Stores Montreal
Dream It Yourself
“Dream It Yourself is the first Quebecer concept store fully dedicated to unconventional, modern and creative weddings.
In our cozy space situated in the Old Port of Montreal, we will have the pleasure to welcome you and your family to present our fantastic collections of wedding gowns and accessories. Our unique gowns are ELEGANT, FEMININE & CONTEMPORARY.
We work with exclusive independent Canadian and French designers distributed for the first time in Quebec. Modern and Sophisticated, all the creations in our showroom aim to celebrate your personal style. We carefully selected our dresses to ensure that every bride finds something expressively her own.”
“Atelier NüStyle strives to offer the perfect VIP experience. Our concept Bridal Boutique was established with the sole purpose of providing future brides a setting to feel beautiful and comfortable while choosing their dream dress.
One-on-one service in a contemporary setting featuring high industrial ceilings, wine/coffee bar, and extra-large private dressing room. Our boutique allows the bride to bring numerous guests and family members to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Prior to each private appointment, dresses are carefully curated according to the bride’s preferred style and budget. With its exclusive collection from celebrity designer Yaniv Persy and many more, Atelier NüStyle is steering away from the traditional bridal boutique by offering a wide variety of styles, sizes, and prices in a very comfortable and relaxed space.”
“All of our gowns are handpicked with love to reflect the Galleria della Sposa bride. Looking for something unique? We also create our own Galleria della Sposa Privé Collection and offer made-to-measure haute couture wedding gown services, both of which are made in Canada.
We believe that shopping for your wedding gown should be an intimate and memorable experience, one that is everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Dressing brides is our passion, and there is no greater joy for us than creating the perfect look for each bride. With that in mind, our boutique hours are always by appointment so that our talented bridal consultants can provide clients with a personalized experience. At Galleria della Sposa, our goal is to help the bride discover her personal style.
You are likely to meet Josie at your bridal consultation. Her warm smile and knowledge of bridal trends will guide you along your journey. And you will have the pleasure of working alongside Emanuele during your fittings. He will charm you not only with his Italian accent but also with his passion and attention to detail.
It’s about personal experience. It’s about attention to detail. It’s about exceeding expectations. It’s about luxury.”
“La Jolie Robe is a new boutique that launched in April 2019 by owner Anne Marie Tabao.
The concept started out solely as a dress rental service for formal evening wear in a small atelier in Vaudreuil. In February 2020, La Jolie Robe expanded into a storefront on 100 Harwood Blvd in Vaudreuil-Dorion and expanded in sales and rentals.
In September of this year, La Jolie Robe became the newest retailer of sought out wedding dress brands such as Essense of Australia, Stella York, Eddy K Italia and Christina Wu. The expansion goes further into catering to all women of different shapes and sizes and now the boutique has over 3000 dresses from wedding dresses, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, jumpsuits and children’s formalwear. The Boutique offers an amazing one on one experience with their clients and promotes a stress-free and fun experience for all.”
“Ma Cherie Bleue is an intimate boutique designed to offer the best private, personalized wedding dress shopping experience. Established in 2015, the boutique is based in Rosemere just a short drive north of Montreal. Founder and owner Nathale is an expert at discovering what each bride wants and needs to feel beautiful on her special day.
Every designer (Canadian and international ) is hand-picked by Nathale for availability at the boutique. Due to this, Ma Cherie Bleue strives to showcase unique and feminine gowns at an affordable price for brides of all budgets.
Come experience a fun shopping experience at Ma Cherie Bleue. Certainly, our beautiful bridal collections will sweep you off your feet! In addition, we carry bridesmaids dresses, flower girl dresses, mother of the brides and grooms dresses, wedding shoes, jewelry and accessories! So much pretty awaits you!”
“Di Carlo Couture is an Haute Couture Bridal Shop located in Montreal’s Little Italy capturing the essence of elegance and femininity that women seek.
At Di Carlo Couture the experience begins with a one on one consultation with the designer herself, Antoinette Di Carlo. With her keen taste for perfection and sharp eye for detail, she and her team hand-crafts every design with exquisite fabrics and precious resources, giving everything that is created her own special touch. Her natural ability to evoke glamour and sophistication continues to capture the eyes of many.
Di Carlo Couture is a favourite among Canadian celebrities and notables including Jessica Mulroney, Cheryl Hickey, Vanessa Grimaldi, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau and Country singer Meghan Patrick; a go-to for red carpet fashion during awards season. Antoinette’s work made the international stage on May 19, 2018 for the wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle when Jessica Mulroney, Meghan’s best friend, wore a custom dress by Di Carlo.
Having been featured in publications such as Huffington Post, Vogue Italia, Wedding Bells, Dress to Kill, Canadian Press and Town & Country, Antoinette’s designs always leave clients confident and proud to be wearing the Di Carlo Couture label.”
“Since 1970 Bridalane has been providing brides and bridal parties an unparalleled choice of gowns to suit their individual styles. From modern bohemian to classic elegance, we believe in the details – sparkling beadwork, floral appliqués, hand embroidery, dramatic backs and textured laces.
Every woman deserves to be at her most beautiful on her wedding day, that’s why Bridalane’s wedding gowns are available in sizes 00 to 36 and a choice of colours, from classic white and ivory to a whisper of blush, champagne, or soft pastels the choice is yours. Accessorize your gown with a selection of veils in fingertip or cathedral length.
Bridalane’s bridal party collections capture the most current trends while keeping with the tradition of timeless design. Gowns for bridesmaids, mothers and flower girls are available in more than 115 gorgeous colours and sizes 00 to 30. This spectacular selection ensures every bride can find styles that complement the unique vision she has for her wedding.”
With large events being a rarity in 2020, many couples have been rethinking their wedding plans and looking at how to have a more intimate celebration without sacrificing the chance to create an elegant setting for their closest friends and family.
Our friends at Stori Events are experts in styling events both big and small and we were particularly impressed with what they managed to achieve on a limited budget at a private boathouse in a prime location on Lake Magog, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
The modern private boathouse was renovated and landscaped into a dream setting, where one could host an unforgettable elopement, engagement and/or intimate celebration.
With the natural light flooding into the space & the still waters, guests have the opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted views and complete serenity.
Thinking beyond the ubiquitous dining, we instead incorporated seating that is both comfortable and unique. Used various florals; pampas grass, fried florals, and pops of white roses feeling cohesively tonal with the mood and decor.
Also, taking cues from our location, we were able to create a tablescape display that featured various finds from our own personal homes. The entity of the setting at a minimal cost.”
Thanks to Jessy and Laurence at Stori Events for sharing their unique vision with us. If you’re planning an intimate event of your own sometime soon, make sure you get in touch with them to see if they can make it extra special.
How do you judge which are the best wedding venues in Montreal?
Each person’s taste will differ. Each couple’s requirements can be far different from the next.
So, we decided to ask the people most familiar with wedding venues – wedding vendors. In fact, we mostly asked wedding photographers who have seen a wide variety of weddings throughout our city and beyond.
The votes came in and the Top 20 venues are listed below. Thanks to all the vendors who voted and helped us compile this list…
Located at the heart of the Floralies Gardens, La Toundra has a beautiful room with large windows overlooking the landscape and the city of Montreal. When we asked wedding vendors for their choice of Best Wedding Venues in Montreal, La Toundra was mentioned again and again. And for good reason.
This heritage-steeped building has many original frescoes from the former Pavillion du Canada at Expo 67, which are now designated as Heritage buildings.
Montreal Science Centre, situated in the heart of the Old Port of Montreal, has four impressive reception halls with a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River, downtown Montreal, and Old Montreal. These contemporary spaces were created in the Old Port’s old hangars, dating back to the early 20th century. The bright and spacious halls can accommodate 40 to 400 guests, and there are also three large terraces that are ideal for outdoor weddings as well as enjoying the city’s fireworks exhibitions.
For a more traditional and elegant wedding location, look no further than the impressive Windsor Ballrooms. With its exquisite ballrooms, this venue offers an array of packages to turn your dream into a reality.
With the help of their onsite coordinators, you can transform these large rooms into something to truly impress your guests.
With its unique architecture and views of the St-Lawrence, Old Port and downtown Montreal, Scena offers a modern twist on a reception room and is quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding venues in Montreal.
Suitable for banquet weddings of up to 200 guests or a cocktail reception for up to 450 guests, this is a unique setting that can also host ceremonies for up to 130 people.
Formerly BICE, Ristorante Beatrice is a wonderful restaurant in downtown Montreal. The open terrace is a great space to entertain your guests, with beautiful decor combined with excellent Italian food.
Espace Reunion is a multifunctional venue that gives you the opportunity to create the wedding of your dreams. With rooms and reception halls totalling more than 10 000 square feet, the venue can accommodate events for up to 1200 guests!
Inaugurated in 1847, Marche Bonsecours is acknowledged as one of Canada’s finest heritage buildings and has become an essential stop on any visit to Old Montréal.
The multipurpose reception halls can handle groups of 100 to 975 guests. The Ballroom and the De la Commune Hall are both suitable for large groups, while the Vieux-Montréal and Ville-Marie halls are the perfect setting for more intimate events. The Ballroom and the Vieux-Montréal and Ville-Marie halls offer exceptional vistas of the St. Lawrence River and Old Montréal on either side.
Designated an official “Site du Patrimoine Québécois” (Québec Heritage site), the sugar shack, located in the midst of a 120-acre forest of century-old maples atop Mont Rigaud, west of Montréal, transports its visitors back in time, providing them with a momentary glimpse of life as it truly was for Québec and Canadian pioneers.
Located in the heart of île Notre-Dame, in a wooded area of the magnificent Floralies Gardens, the former Pavilion de la Jamaique, which dates back to Expo 67, has been completely renovated to provide couples with a fantastic, modern wedding venue. Its window placement and design, along with its beautiful terrace framing the pavilion, provides you with everything you need for a truly memorable day, in a charming setting!
Dating from 1832, this Tudor-style mansion, with gardens and views of the Richelieu River is 12 minutes walk from Les Jardins Panoramiques and 6 km from Mont Saint-Hilaire and the Gault Nature Reserve of McGill University.
There are reception halls or rooms that can accommodate between 10 and 160 people, as well as gorgeous gardens for your photos and a private terrace for your cocktail party.
Le Wedding Mill is a wedding planning company in Montreal and is aptly named after its founder Michelle Mill. We chatted with Michelle about her business and how she works with couples to create a flawless wedding.
When did le wedding mill first begin? le wedding mill launched in 2017, but its roots dig a few years deeper than that. I have always been drawn to planning events, from bridal showers to retreats to galas. Over the years, I had had the privilege of being a bridesmaid several times and loved every minute of the experience. I was particularly excited about helping with the little design details. I also loved being able to take their stress away by quietly handling any logistical issue that arose.
Eventually, I dove into the corporate event world, learning the ins and outs of hospitality, client relations and logistics. At the same time, my bridesmaids duties escalated to planner duties at some of my friends’ weddings, then eventually I was helping friends of friends and so on. In 2017, my wedding season was shaping up to be a busy one and thus, I faced an exciting but frightening dilemma: Should I keep the security of my corporate job or whole heartedly pursue my dream of becoming a wedding planner? Needless to say, I took the leap and haven’t looked back for a minute. We are now a small but very mighty team of two, with a group of lovely helpers that lend a hand on event days.
How would you sum up your approach? As our tagline aptly states, we offer a fresh and fun approach to wedding planning. It’s no secret that planning a wedding is stressful. There are so many moving parts to think about, not to mention the emotions involved. At le wedding mill, we are very aware that our clients are busy, which is why our planning process is streamlined and efficient. We take the stress out of the equation so that our couples can actually enjoy their engagement and focus on the fun parts of wedding planning.
What challenges do you usually face during a wedding day? As there are so many moving parts in a wedding, the biggest challenge that we face is keeping everyone and everything moving at the same pace! For example, if hair and makeup take longer than expected, we need to make that time up elsewhere to ensure that the ceremony isn’t delayed too much, leaving guests in their seats for an extended period. Fortunately, we tackle this challenge by padding our timelines with extra time at specific key moments.
Another classic challenge that we face, one that we have not yet figured out how to control, is weather. Many of our couples have an outdoor component to their wedding, be it the ceremony, cocktail or the entire event. We monitor weather closely and always have a solid plan for inclement weather.
What are the differences between a wedding planner, a coordinator, a designer, and a venue coordinator? This is a very important topic as there is a lot of confusion about these roles. To summarize, a wedding planner is your guide throughout the entire planning process. He/she will typically be responsible for keeping the planning process running in a timely manner, recommending and contacting vendors that suit your style and budget, designing the event, and managing the logistics on-site. Essentially, the planner does all the legwork – you make the final decisions. At le wedding mill, we offer full planning as well as partial planning services to accommodate couples who want to some of the legwork, but not all.
A coordinator will step in later on in the process and tie all loose ends. He/she will confirm all the responsibilities with the vendors you have booked and will usually create your timeline for you. On your wedding day, a coordinator will be there to set up and manage the logistics. In this case, you do all the legwork and he/she will make sure it all goes according to plan.
A designer focuses strictly on the aesthetic and visual aspects of the day. He/she will relay with the vendors who impact the design, such as the florist or the rental company, and will set up the event so that it reflects what had been previously agreed upon. A designer will not; however, handle any logistics of the day and will usually sneak out well before the wedding starts!
A venue coordinator, though instrumental to the success of your wedding, is not the same as a planner, coordinator or designer. While every venue is different, a venue coordinator is usually responsible for ensuring that all-venue related tasks are being fulfilled. This can be anything from setting the tables to supervising the in-house caterer’s service times. In some cases, he/she will supervise the teardown of the event. However, there is a misconception that a venue coordinator will take on the responsibilities of one of the above-mentioned roles, which can lead to disappointment and frustration at the last minute. The best way to know for sure is to speak with your venue coordinator to find out exactly what they will and will not do on your big day.
What can brides do to help you to plan their wedding day in the best possible way? Communication is key! We encourage couples to overshare so that we are aware of every detail, nuance and pet peeve. On the wedding day, we are the couples’ eyes and ears on the ground and want to make sure that their wedding dreams come true. Whatever information we have will help us run the day smoothly and manage expectations.
How early do brides need to think about booking their planner? The sooner, the better! While all planners do their best to accommodate last minute requests, it’s not always possible on busier weekends. Our couples typically book us anywhere between 8 to 24 months in advance.
Today we’re excited to share with you Jacqueline + Rich’s beautiful wedding photographed by Montreal photographer Annabelle Agnew. They chose Pavillon de la Jamaique as their wedding venue and, as you’ll see from the photographs, it was a stunning event full of fun, style, and relaxed charm.
We asked Jacqueline to share more details about the wedding day with us…
Wedding Date: Friday August 31, 2018
The Proposal Story: We both used to work in pubs downtown Montreal. We met 12 years ago through mutual friends and were friends for a few years before dating. Rich proposed down on one knee on the beach at our favourite Mexican vacation spot at sunset.
The Vision for the Day: Blush, Blue, Ivory and Gold.
I found the blush, ivory and blue colour combination to be elegant and romantic with gold for sparkle and pizzazz.
The Venue: Pavillon de la Jamaique
Finding the Dress: BHLDN – I bought a bridesmaid dress as I wanted something simple that I would be comfortable in all night. I was really happy with it.
Your Photographer: Annabelle Agnew Photography, Associate Photographer: Alex Jones www.annabelleagnew.com Working with Annabelle was the best decision we made for our wedding. She immediately understood what we were looking for and offered great advice as well. I’m so pleased that we have such great photos from our wedding.
The Details + Decor:
I loved the cocktail menu that we had for cocktail hour; Aperol spritz, Pimm’s Cup, Tom Collins and Margaritas. We both love Aperol Spritz and Margaritas and then we wanted to include a couple of classic English cocktails for all of the English guests at our wedding.
Ice cream truck. They served ice cream cones, ice cream sandwiches and espressos. This was a lot of fun for everyone I think. We wanted people to be able to mingle while enjoying their dessert and again, we were trying to incorporate something that our guests from overseas would enjoy. It’s not only the English who love ice cream, but I have teased my husband in the past about his family’s penchant for ice cream so we knew it would be well received.
The band was a huge hit! I knew right away which band I wanted to play at our wedding. We have known these guys for over 10 years as they used to play in pubs that we both worked in. Initially we were going to split the party up with the band for the first half of the night after dinner and then follow it up with an iPod dj playlist but people were having so much fun with the band playing that they played for most of the night.
It was important for us to be surrounded by friends and family for the day so we had a mutual good friend as the officiant, another friend as the MC, and two friends bartending.
We had craft beer and wine from Ontario to add a Canadian element
We had a photo guest book which turned out really well. People took pictures with the instant camera, stuck it in the book and wrote us a note with it.
Most Memorable Moments:
Walking down the aisle. Leading up to the big day I was really nervous about walking down the aisle and having all eyes on me, but as I walked down the aisle and saw him, the nervousness left me. I cry at all weddings so I was worried that I would be a sniffling mess the whole time at my own but I managed to keep it together.
Having all of our friends and families from different cities, even continents, celebrating together. Having our friends from here make friends with our friends from England was really cool. Everyone mingled and the dance floor got pretty crazy!
The speeches were just great. Just minutes after my maid of honour told a story about how clumsy I am we both spilled our drinks. Our guests had a pretty good laugh at that.
Vendor/Supplier List with links:
Hair and Makeup: Emily and Francine at Spa Annie Young www.annieyoung.com I was really pleased with my hair and makeup and this spa/salon has such a great team.
Cake: Le Casse-Glace. www.lecasseglace.caWe skipped the traditional cake and opted for a food truck serving ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones and specialty coffees. It was a big hit with all of our guests!
Once you’ve exchanged vows, had some amazing food and had some beautiful wedding photos taken, it’s time for you and your guests to let your hair down and hit the dancefloor. Having an expert in charge of the music can have a huge effect on how great the party is and one of Montreal’s most-established DJ/MCs is Stefan Jez from Uptown Xpress.
We asked Stefan a little about himself and his approach to DJing weddings and what advice he had for couples planning their own wedding.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m married – 15 yrs this summer, we have a great 12-year-old son. I love animals, especially dogs! I am a huge Montreal Canadiens fan!
What made you want to become a wedding DJ?
I started DJing in high school. I have always loved music and lighting. As I got older I really found myself enjoying weddings more than any other type of party. Each wedding is always different and that is what I love about them. Especially in Montreal with our multicultural population, it’s really cool to see all the different traditions from so many places around the world. Also, at a wedding we can really focus on quality from an MC standpoint, making the reception be something special and unique that reflects the couple.
What do you think makes for a great wedding DJ?
My love and passion for what I do! Being a wedding DJ is very different than being a club DJ or a sweet 16 DJ. Weddings are a very different type of animal completely. What makes me different is that I have formal training in performance, staging, storytelling and being a Master of Ceremonies. In fact, I continually take performance workshops and attend industry conferences to keep learning and honing my craft. I care for each couple that I DJ for and want their wedding to be exactly what they imagined, and I will do anything to make that happen for them. My training and style are unique in Montreal, and because of that, the couples that choose me really get a different experience at their reception, something that is totally not cookie-cutter. I help extraordinary couples create extraordinary moments at their wedding.
How would you sum up your DJ style?
Open format. Being a wedding DJ, I need to keep all options open all the time. I play all genres, all styles, but add a little flair to them by mixing everything live.
As a wedding MC, my style is formal and classy. I look to use my MC skills to create an engaging, romantic and fun receptions for the newlyweds and their guests.
How do you work with couples to create the perfect playlist for their reception?
Music is a part of the planning discussions I have with each couple. Sometimes couples just want a “mood”, sometimes couples really love a particular style or genre. I take that information from them to help me curate the playlist that I will use for them. But again, a great wedding DJ is able to read a room, set a tone, and depending on what the desired outcome is, can adjust the playlist to achieve that.
The service I provide is much more than just music though. I also act as a coordinator for each couple during the reception. During the planning process, we discuss all kinds of ideas, what is important to them, what types of special moments can we create. I help each couple create their reception timeline and then I take care of making it happen. Acting as the MC I then set the room for each moment we create. Getting the newlyweds ready, their parents, and any other people who are about to be involved, I also coordinate with the other vendors like the photographer and videographer, this way, everything goes smoothly and nobody misses anything.
Describe a typical day for you when you’re booked for a wedding?
I start off with a really good breakfast! After that, pack the truck and head out to the venue to begin setup with my team around noon most days. Once our setup is done, we do all our testing and sound checks. We will then get changed into our suits and be fully ready at least one hour before guests arrive. During that time, we go over last minute details, coordinate with the maitre’d and anyone else we need to. During this time and throughout the entire day actually, we are taking pictures and video to post to social media too.
At the end of the reception which typically is anywhere from 1-3am, we then tear down all the gear, pack it back up and finally get home between 3-5am!
One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that there is a lot of preparation that goes into every wedding I work. It is not just the hours of performance on the day. Because of the level of detail I get into with each couple, I spend anywhere from 20 to 25 hours preparing for each wedding. Writing scripts, working on their love story, making custom audio recordings and of course music preparation.
What tricks do you have to motivate a crowd if nobody is dancing?
First step here is to be paying attention because even if they are not dancing, they still might be having an amazing time. There are moments during a wedding reception, like the midnight table when people want to take a small breather, get some more food, sit for a bit, then get back to dancing. You can’t always force the dance floor. But for those times when the crowd is a little bit shyer or reserved, I will get out onto the dance floor with the newlyweds, and start some sort of interactive dance. This way I can have the couple gather some people and create some momentum.
What’s your go-to song to really get the dancefloor rockin’?
Danza Kuduro by Don Omar
What’s your favourite first dance song?
From This Moment – Shania Twain and Bryan White
And what’s the craziest first dance song you’ve played?
Radiohead – Pyramid Song
What are your thoughts on song requests?
Bring them on! Of course, I take requests, it’s part of being interactive with the crowd! Weddings have the widest range of ages and musical tastes, taking requests helps us throughout the night to fine tune what they want to hear.
Here’s a trick I use as well, during dinner, I’ll go and ask some of the older couples for any song requests, this is because often they’ll tell me their wedding song, which is something I can then play during dinner or a slow dance segment.
What do you do if a song has explicit lyrics?
As a wedding DJ, I subscribe to several music services, these provide clean edits of most songs. I will not play songs with explicit lyrics at a wedding.
What advice would you give to couples who are considering a DJ for the wedding reception?
Don’t wait until 6 months before your wedding to book a DJ! 10-12 months out will increase your chances of booking your first choice!
Meet with the actual person who will be your DJ or MC. You need to be a good fit!
Look for proof! Videos, pictures, reviews, testimonials. As for videos, not just video of people partying, videos of the DJ or MC actually performing.
You should feel that the DJ cares as much as you do about your wedding.
Remember that a wedding DJ is not only there to play music. There are so many little things that happen behind the scenes throughout the night that a great DJ or MC can make or break the event.
Which are your favorite Montreal wedding venues to play at?
There are so many amazing venues in Montreal, but Riviera and Le Crystal are two of my top favorites.
How do you know when you’ve done a great job?
As an MC, I know I’m doing a good job when guests come up to me during dinner and ask me if I am related to the couple! Because of the work I put into getting to know each couple I collaborate with, and the storytelling skills I use during the reception, many guests assume I have known them for years!
As a DJ, I know when we’re doing a good job when people are happy, and enjoying themselves. And no, it doesn’t necessarily mean a full dance floor. Some weddings are more the drink, talk and a little bit of dancing type, but they are still having an amazing time. Of course, there are plenty of weddings where the dance floor is packed the entire night too!
A Guide for Engaged Couples from an Industry Insider
It’s hard to pin down exactly how I became a wedding coordinator, but here’s what happened…
I was working for a catering company. I was new-ish, and just starting to get the better gigs – working in the client’s home with a few other staffers, increasing the likelihood of a good tip. I remember watching my co-workers handle a situation where the client was in a terrible mood from the moment we arrived, and complained about everything, including the cocktail napkins we had brought, saying, “These aren’t fit to use as toilet paper! What are we going to do?!” before opening a drawer full of her own fancy cocktail napkins. I watched how the chef, a notoriously calm dude, kept a steady gaze, didn’t interrupt. It didn’t help, but it didn’t make things worse. I watched as the other server grabbed a bottle of Grey Goose from the freezer, winking at me. Within half an hour, the client was soothed, and by the end of the evening, we had gotten her on our side. I remember she said, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” and that she tipped us handsomely.
It was in these intimate environments that I developed a skill for dealing with demanding, anxious, and frazzled clients. I relied on an even tone, and found empathy for people who wanted things “just-so”. I also fostered infinite patience for people who are not related to me. It was in part because of this skillset that I caught the attention of the coordinators with whom we worked, who are some of the most demanding, perfectionist, and sharp-eyed people you’ll ever encounter. I started assisting on their weddings, and of course, landed the highly un-coveted role as “bridal party handler.”
Let me tell you about the worst bride I ever met. I was warned I would have to corral her often, as she was notoriously bad at being on time. I was also quickly made aware of how incredibly vain she was and noted that whenever she saw an opportunity to be photographed, she would halt all progress. I had to get real with the photographer at one point: “Please, can you just go down to the car or she will never leave this apartment.” I begged. As her handler, all I had to do was get her to the ceremony on time, and after that, stick by her in case she needed anything. What she decided she needed was for someone to hold her train so that it wouldn’t hit the floor for the entire cocktail hour as she greeted her guests, many of whom were her new husband’s wealthy friends and business contacts. All of them gave me apologetic looks, and I did my best to keep a straight face as I inwardly rolled my eyes and giggled at how pretentious this woman was, and how bad a job she was doing of impressing those people she so badly wanted to woo.
Listen. You don’t want to be that person. This day is about you, and everyone knows it. You’ll be the center of attention no matter what, so it’s best if when eyes are on you, you’re the picture of serenity, and that you and your partner are the archetypes of love. Take it from me, the ringer they bring in when people are being difficult. Becoming a “zilla” is totally preventable. Here’s how.
GET YOUR GUEST LIST IN ORDER
Before you do anything else – before you check out venues or start crowdsourcing the best caterer, tailor, florist, and photographer – nail down who you want at your shindig. If you’re on the fence about whether you’re having a destination, intimate, or larger wedding, the guest list will help you nail that down. It will also get the ball rolling for a talk about the bridal party.
If your parents are helping you pay for the wedding (or paying for it entirely), they may feel that gives them carte blanche to invite all of their friends. This is a touchy subject but I’m going to bite the bullet: it’s your wedding. Try to set yourself up for success, which means no resentment towards your in-laws. My husband and I both have huge families and lots of close friends who live all over the world – the result of having lived together for a year in his native Paris. Our venue had a cap of 140 guests and both sides of parents had certain friends they had to invite, so we made a rule: we only wanted people in the room who love us (and we didn’t want to have to be fake-nice to anyone). It was a challenge, but I eventually whittled my parents’ lists down to a minimum of strangers. I’m happy to say there were just two couples at my wedding whom neither I nor my husband had ever met before.
If you have guests who’ll need to travel, a save-the-date minimum six months before the wedding is necessary. You can send this by email or even call them. If a guest is really important to you, don’t make them wait for the formal invitation.
Your guest list and your parents’ lists will also get the ball rolling to talk about your budget, and on that note, I need you to listen very carefully. Do us all a favour and…
BE WILLING TO PAY FULL PRICE
We all know that when suppliers hear the word “wedding” they jack up the price. A good coordinator will be able to tell you what a fair price is and get it for you. Coordinators have relationships with suppliers and while you will only get married once, they are the ones giving those suppliers repeat business. I won’t allow someone to gouge you for candles, for example, because I know where the supplier orders them and you can too.
Equally, as a coordinator, it is not worth it for me to damage my relationship with a supplier by insisting on a discount for you. If you aren’t using a coordinator, or if you have some friends in the business, you may want to try to nickel and dime them so that you can stay within your budget, but I sincerely beg you not to do this. It’s nearly always true that you get what you pay for, and on this all-important day, it’s at best not ideal and potentially catastrophic to have people on site who feel like they are doing you a favour by showing up. Just think about how you feel when you’re working overtime for free. Ever heard the expression, “they can’t complain”? Yeah. That’s you, on your wedding day, when the bar service shows up without bussers because your buddy owns the company, and his very limited staff left a huge mess and the venue charges you a $1000 clean-up fee. Pony up.
I’ve also had super easy clients who pay me upfront and even tip me in advance. I was so concerned that they would feel they had overpaid me that I kept my assistant a little longer and shared the wealth, and had no qualms about springing for little extras, like the long BBQ lighters we need to light floating candles. Be generous with people, and they will be generous with you. I try to charge fairly, and I will go above and beyond for my clients.
Conversely, clients who nickel and dime their suppliers leave them saying (how many times have I heard this?) “I’m not making any money on this gig.” This translates to cutting staff earlier than they should be (meaning no one is left to serve dessert or tidy up), annoyance about your last-minute requests (and you will have some!), and a general unwillingness to negotiate or throw in a few extras. I’m not saying you can’t call your coordinator as much as you need to, but take care with your tone and their time. I often joke that 90% of my job is being nice to people, because I will inevitably ask someone to do something that is outside their job description during the event, and I want their answer to be, “For you, Carrie-Ann, it would be my pleasure” and not “that’s not my job”. It could be as simple as asking the photographer to help me move the cake, or the caterer to set aside the vases for the florist. It’s just easier to get shit done if people don’t fucking hate you. (Remember: yelling at the caterer before they have served the first course never ends well.) People love a reason to gossip, so don’t give them one.
Re-work your budget so that you can pay people what they deserve, and don’t forget to tip. And then set aside even more money.
SET ASIDE AN EMERGENCY BUDGET
Give yourself a buffer so that you can throw money at a problem. Depending on the scale of your event, that could be $500 or $5000. Take the price of your wedding dress or custom suit: that is how much you need in your emergency fund. No, not your “oh let’s blow the budget and spring for a band” fund… your “it’s the week before my wedding and something went terribly wrong” fund. Note the distinction. In a perfect world, you won’t spend that money and you can put it towards the honeymoon. But something probably will go wrong, so on that note…
KNOW THAT SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG AND GET OKAY WITH IT
It’s important to accept, starting right now, that something won’t go the way you planned it. Your miniature-vase-place-card-holders may not arrive in time, or your dress might not fit because the store didn’t warn you that they were going out of business and your last alteration was three months before your wedding day. I had one bride who told me she’d freak if a baby cried while she was walking down the aisle, and I said, “Get okay with it babe, cause it’s gonna happen.” I can do a lot for you but I cannot control a crying baby. Or a power outage (although I do have something in my back pocket for that one). Or the groom dislocating his shoulder mid-hora. Or your officiant mispronouncing your name throughout the ceremony.
TRIPLE-CHECK-IN ON YOUR OFFICIANT
Traditional officiants perform a massive amount of weddings and other rituals, which means that, yes, they know what they are doing, but it also means that sometimes one event blends into the other. This can and does lead to them forgetting to mention something significant, or blindsiding you by turning your atheist ceremony super-religious (yup, that’s exactly what happened at my own wedding). Take the time to send them an email a few days before your wedding to remind them what is most important to you for the ceremony.
Here’s a sample email, based on one sent by a very organized bride I worked with last season after I told her some of my horror stories:
I just wanted to confirm everything with you for the wedding which is this coming Sunday!
Date: Sunday, June 10, 2019
Location: Ristorante Beatrice – 1504 Sherbrooke Street West
We will do a quick rehearsal at around 4 with the procession and then proceed with the Ketubah signing for 4:30pm
Ketubah: Provided by you!
We have the chuppah ordered, kosher white wine, wine glass and all other necessary items on our list!
Recap of family members:
Maid of Honour
If you are unsure of any details or want more information please free to email, text, or call me!
Thank you and looking forward to seeing you Sunday!
It’s really common nowadays, especially for secular weddings, to have a friend officiate the marriage. It’s a lovely way to add a personal and whimsical touch, but it has its own pitfalls. For example, someone who has never performed a ceremony might take it too seriously, and really milk their time with the microphone. (This is most common with MC’s, and I have nearly had words with an MC who would. Not. Stop. Talking. Every time he went to introduce a speech, he made a speech to introduce the speech. Too many speeches.) If it’s a friend, they may want to surprise you, and surprised you will be when they ask you to produce your handwritten vows that you don’t recall agreeing to write. And speaking of speaking…
REMIND YOUR SPEAKERS TO KEEP IT SHORT
Be careful who you invite to speak, including your above-mentioned MC, and be careful to remind them that shorter is sweeter. What do they want to say to you and 200 of your closest friends? Let’s get to dancing! Asking a trusted friend or family member to look over your parents’ speeches for too-embarrassing moments (like the time you stuffed your bra with tissues and then passed it out when someone sneezed) or lengthy stories that don’t lead anywhere.
Anything over three minutes can and should be said in a letter and there does not need to be an embarrassing slide show to go along with it. Your coordinator can protect you from unscheduled speeches, and then you don’t have to be the bad guy. If guests approach you and ask to speak (because I have told them I am not handing over the mic without your permission), just blame the “timeline” and admit it: you’re not in charge. Let go. Trust me to run it, and I will protect you from your friends who over-enjoyed the open bar. And that brings me to my final piece of advice – even if you’re simply getting married at city hall proceeded by an intimate dinner at a swanky restaurant…
HIRE A PLANNER
The most organized, efficient, best person to ever plan their own wedding still needs at a minimum a day-of coordinator, or they won’t be able to relax and enjoy the day. Think about it: you spent all of this time and effort and money to have a memorable day, and when it’s all over, you feel empty because you didn’t get to look your partner in the eye and celebrate it. You were stressed and lost your temper (and yelled at the groom during the main course so that when my boss asked me if the couple had eaten and could we start speeches I had to say, “No, they haven’t eaten yet… because the bride is browbeating the groom at the head table where they are seated with both of their families.”). You were busy worrying and not busy getting your guests on the dance floor by being on the dance floor. Your energy sets the tone of the event, and if you don’t have fun, neither will your guests. Make memories and let someone else worry about the timeline.
Your planner can also help you avoid logistical nightmares, like the bride I had who was determined to avoid rental fees by buying absolutely every item that went on her tabletop so she could try to sell it after. Or the panic of how last-minute some suppliers can be (they’ll know who to trust to pull it off, even if it’s last minute because surprise, you didn’t realize you picked Grand Prix weekend to get married).
A good planner will talk you out of doing things that will only stress you out, like insisting on a pre-ceremony sound bath and wishes on feathers and a silent meditative walk through the woods or having an outdoor ceremony in November. They’ll also remind you to enjoy your day, and let you make memories with your new husband or wife and see how much fun all your friends are having. Bottom line: your guests will have fun if you’re having fun.
A good planner will give you the benefit of their experience. In all likelihood, you haven’t done this before, and you don’t plan to be doing it again. Find someone who knows what’s up that you can trust to take the reigns, and it will be so much easier to be nice. As one planner I know often says, “Nice brides get nice weather.” She’s wrong, of course – we can’t control the weather… but we can control how nice a day you have. You catch more flies with honey.
Carrie-Ann Kloda is a wedding planner, a writer, and a yoga teacher. You can see her writing at heycarrieannk.com, take her class at Yoga Vieux Montreal, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now booking for 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Occasionally we stumble across a real Montreal wedding that immediately has us transfixed. Sam & Nicola’s beautifully relaxed and stylish wedding at Espace 360 in Old Montreal is one such wedding.
Photographed by the fantastic Gabrielle Desmarchais these photographs stopped us in our tracks with their cinematic feel, not to mention Nicola’s stunning recycled wedding dress.
Gabrielle says it’s “a love story between a beautiful Irish girl and a Mexican with a big heart. They met in the City of Glass and it was love at first sight!
Vancouver being a rather distant city for Nicola’s Irish family, the couple decided to celebrate their wedding in Montreal, a city they had always wanted to visit and had not yet had the chance. It was in the romantic neighborhood of Old Montreal that Nicola and Sam said “I do” accompanied by their families and friends from Europe, Mexico, the United States and British Columbia.
The ceremony was held in a large glass room reminiscent of the architecture of their home city, Vancouver. A 360-degree view offered guests a glimpse of the city! The newlyweds drank with their guests with Irish drinks made from Baileys. The day was beautiful and hot. All walked the cobblestone streets of old Montreal, discovering a new city for many. There followed a supper at Hotel Le Saint Sulpice with sometimes touching, often humorous speeches.”
Montreal wedding photographer Steve Gerrard only moved to Canada 4 years ago but has already photographed a wide range of gorgeous weddings in the city and throughout Quebec.
Originally from the UK where he was voted Best UK Wedding Photographer, he met a Canadian girl, got married and decided to relocate to Montreal with their 3 young kids in 2014.
Check out the video clip below, created by the fantastic Love Lux Films, showing Steve in action shooting a couple shoot in a very cool location in Montreal.
Steve recently chatted to Junebug Weddings about his approach to wedding photography. You can read the full interview below.
An Interview with Montreal-based Destination Wedding Photographer Steve Gerrard
With an incredible array of music photography experience in his pocket, Montreal wedding photographer Steve Gerrard has tailored his talents and channelled his passions into the distinctive style of wedding photography he uses today. From touching and intimate to comical and whimsical, he has mastered the art of documenting the full range of emotions present at a wedding. It was such a pleasure to take a glimpse into the mind of Steve, learning of how he found photography and what he strives to achieve in the future. You can’t help but get swept away by the charm of this skilled family man, nor can you avoid getting lost in his vivid, creatively composed imagery. And in case of any future correspondence with him, just know to keep the Game of Thrones spoilers to a minimum.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Steve. I’m originally from Chester in the UK but moved to Montreal in 2014 and have already survived one Canadian winter so I’m doing well. I live here with my wife Evelyne and three small humans that we made together. We call them Elliott, Isaac and Jonas and they make us smile every day. I’m a huge music fan. I also love scuba diving, direct flights, Jack Daniel’s, countryside pubs, funky hotels, dark chocolate and sushi. I photograph weddings, portraits and bands.
What gets you up in the morning, literally and/or figuratively.
My wife’s annoying phone alarm! It’s my least favourite sound of the entire day. Once I’m awake though, I’m keen to make the most of the time I’m awake. I try hard not to waste time too much. I’m a very focused and driven person most of the time, but I also love just forgetting about work and spending time with the kids.
What really gets to you at weddings? Makes you emotional? Makes you laugh?
Since I’ve had kids I seem to have become stupidly emotional. I get choked up at The Simpsons sometimes! So if I’m shooting a wedding and see the emotions between family members or the couple I have to try to keep it together and hope nobody sees my eyes welling up. I can hide behind my camera at least! Speeches are usually the time that happens most. A really heartfelt and maybe unexpected line in a speech can really hit home. I’ve seen rooms where everyone is welling up, even the tough guys. But that’s what it’s all about right? People, relationships and love. That’s what counts.
What three photographers do you admire or who has inspired you, either in the past or right now?
Have you always wanted to be a photographer? If not, when do you remember knowing?
Not at all. Originally I wanted to be a rock star, but not being able to sing or play any instruments made that tricky, so I fell into DJing in clubs and that took me around the world for a few years. I’ve played to crowds of 50 people and to 93,000 people at Wembley Stadium, warming up for Oasis. So I kinda got close to being a rock star after all!
While I was doing all that travelling I wanted to really experience the places I was getting to visit. Places like China, Russia, Argentina and Indonesia that I may never get to go back to. I’ve always loved other people’s photography so I decided that if I bought a decent camera and taught myself how to use it properly I could explore the cities I was visiting and make photos as I went. Turns out, I was actually pretty good at that, and my love of music lead me towards photographing bands and concerts. From there, I started to see wedding photography develop into something truly creative and exciting, and I haven’t looked back.
Do you have any advice for beginning photographers, wedding or otherwise?
Trust your own eye. It’s ok to be inspired by other photographers, especially those outside of weddings, but then you need to almost forget all that and trust yourself. The only thing that makes you unique among a zillion other photographers is your own eye, your own brain and your own personality. If you don’t like shooting a certain way, don’t do it. Make images that excite you, even if you’re not quite sure why. There will be other people out there who feel the same way and those are your clients. Don’t be the cover band, be the original!
Favorite trick to capture images of reluctant subjects? (kids, grandparents, nervous-in-front-of-the-camera-types)
I tell kids (up to a certain age) that I have a goldfish that lives in my camera and keeps trying to get out. They look, wide-eyed into the lens as I click away and often tell me they saw the goldfish. With older kids, I tell them I think my camera’s broken and ask if they can check that the shutter opens when I press the shutter. I get my shot of them looking right into the lens, they say “yeah it’s what is working,” and I thank them and move on.
With adults, I just talk about any old crap to distract them, make them laugh, whatever. If I show people I’m not bothered about looking like an idiot, then hopefully they’ll realise they don’t need to take it too seriously and will relax and have fun. Most of my couple portraits are more about the couple being together and interacting rather than posing for the camera.
Describe an average day for you.
Most days I’m up by 6:30 getting the kids ready for school. Once I’ve been Dad for an hour I open the computer and check my to-do list, usually starting with some editing. I’m terrible for being distracted by social media so often I’ll use an app called SelfControl that forces me to focus without being distracted. I’ll choose some great music (I have a few Spotify playlists designed to soundtrack my day), turn up my Sonos speakers and aim to check as many items off my to-do list as I can before the boys come home. I save emails, etc. for later in the day because that can become a never-ending circle that stops me from getting to the jobs that matter most. I prefer to be creative early in the day anyway.
I’ll have two half-hour breaks to eat, read, make tea (I am English, don’t forget!), and do some chores. I’m hoping to learn French this year too.
My wife works at a school so I usually make dinner for everyone which is something that would have made her laugh two years ago when I struggled to make anything beyond a poor spag bol.
Evenings are for chilling with my wife, Evelyne, and a good movie or Netflix series. We’re almost caught up on Game Of Thrones. I also try to get out to see bands regularly. Montreal has a great music scene.
Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
Realise that photographers can vary greatly. Keep looking until you find the photographer that gets you excited about having them document your wedding in their own way. And once you’ve found that photographer, trust them to do what they do. If you feel confident in the photographer you choose, you won’t feel the need to send them your Pinterest board or a shot list. And you can relax and enjoy the wedding, safe in the knowledge you’re going to have wedding photographs you’ll love for the rest of your life.
What are your favorite destinations locations?
To be honest, my favourite destinations are anywhere I haven’t shot before. I love travelling, exploring, seeing new places and cultures. I know my photography is at its best when I’m somewhere new and inspiring. In the past year, I’ve shot weddings in Croatia, Italy, South Africa, Iceland, the US, Mexico, the UK and Canada. Iceland was obviously incredible. Whichever direction you look there’s something to take your breath away. The second night I was there I saw the Northern Lights which was something I’d always wanted to see. I managed to get a shot of the couple with the lights in the sky behind them. Pretty amazing.
Where do you want to shoot next?
I’d love to shoot in Bali. Or India. Or California. Or the Rockies. Anywhere, really, though. Except maybe North Korea!
What changes/improvements have you observed within your photography over the years?
I think the best thing I’ve done is learned to shoot more and more for myself rather than always thinking about what the client expects. Of course there will be times during a wedding day that you’re taking photos purely for the client, but my philosophy is now that most of the images I take on the day are just myself trying to make the best images from the events happening in front of me, or in the way I’ve learned to anticipate images or to be creative with compositions. That keeps it interesting for me and encourages me to push myself to be creative throughout the day. And I know that if I continue to produce photographs that I’m excited about I’ll find the clients that are drawn to those types of images. I don’t need to appeal to every bride and groom looking for a photographer. I only want to shoot around 30 weddings each year, so I just need to find 30 couples who love what I do and are excited to have me capture their wedding for them.
Any direction you would like to take your photography?
I’d love to do more editorial portraiture. Maybe for magazines. I love the work of people like Anton Corbijn, Joey L, Annie Liebovitz, Rodney Smith, Danny Clinch, and Mark Seliger. I’d love to develop my own personal style a little more with those type of portraits. It’s something I’m hoping to push forward this year.
How do you know you’ve done a great job for your wedding clients?
I want my clients to be surprised when they see their wedding through my eyes. They will remember the day in a certain way already but then they’ll have a whole new perspective of it when they see my photos. As the years go by, their own memories will fade but their wedding photos remain and they slowly become more and more important. I also want them to remember how they felt, not just how things looked when they go through the images.
A huge thank you to Steve for his time, insight, advice and of course, those awesome Spotify playlists. To see more of Steve’s work or to learn even more about this whiskey and Coke enthusiast, head over to his portfolio.