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Wedding Planning – Where to Start?

September 6, 2019 3 Comments

I’ll be posting my wedding series in chronological order – I started with my wedding dress shopping experience, because I bought my gowns before I got engaged 🙂

Today’s post is all about how I started the planning process, which began pretty much the day after Azim popped the question! He thought I was crazy to start planning so early, but I knew I’d have a year or less to get a solid plan in place.

He proposed in October, and we determined that the best time for us to get married would be in the summer. I had been leaning towards a fall wedding, but we knew there was a chance he’d be going away for grad school, so we picked a date in late summer. That meant a timeline of roughly 10 months from engagement to wedding day, which was the perfect amount of time for us!

The first thing we did was discuss our guest list/wedding size. We both come from really big families, but we both wanted to have an intimate wedding. This was probably the biggest source of stress and the topic that caused the most arguments between us – I hear this all the time, so I definitely recommend that this be the FIRST thing you talk about if you’re starting the planning process.

I was really strict about including my immediate family (parents + their siblings and my first cousins and grandparents), and close friends. This meant keeping the guest list quite small, causing a lot of heartache for me, but I knew I made the right decision. My extended family (mom’s cousins, aunts, and uncles) were so understanding, and showed me so much love for which I’ll always be grateful.

After we decided on guest list, we made some decisions around location and venue. I did research on getting married in a chateau in France, and found it to be surprisingly less expensive than I’d expected. In fact, it probably would have cost us around the same as getting married in Toronto, but our guests would be shelling out a lot more. It’s also hard for our grandparents to travel, and it was really important to us that they be there, so we nixed that idea.

It was at this point that I engaged my wedding planner. I plan a lot of events at work, and knew that I wanted support to deal with the stressful parts of planning that I don’t enjoy. I really wanted to love every minute of the wedding and planning process! I also wanted to be able to rely on my planner for her connections in the industry, to help find other vendors.


Hiring Michaela from Michaela Elizabeth Creative was the best decision I made. I am planning on doing a round-up post of vendors soon, but I really had to add in here that she truly helped me achieve my dream wedding. She was professional, attentive, kind, and a lot of fun to work with! I will recommend her over and over.

The first thing I asked Michaela to help me with was finding a venue within my budget. She provided me with options that fit my description, and came with me to check them out. I ended up going with my own choice of Hart House – which threw a curveball at the budget. I love that Michaela helped in other ways to try and keep me within it, without overstepping. I know lots of other planners would not be this conscientious.

Our parents at our venue

So when making a big choice like a venue, I would keep in mind the things that you feel are most important to spend money on, and that you don’t want to compromise. For me, my list looked like this:

  • I wanted to spend more money on a venue that would be so beautiful it wouldn’t need a lot of extra decoration. This way, I could spend less on decor and flowers.
  • I wanted to spend more if it meant food was better, and my guests had more than enough to eat.
  • I wanted to spend on an exceptional photographer, videographer, and live music.
  • I didn’t want to spend on frills like favours, bathroom kits, or even paper invitations.

Your priorities will be unique to you, and I think it’s helpful to lay out what you do and don’t want to spend on, and refer back to those points. It’s so easy to get carried away with spending (“Maybe I DO want a fancy seating chart with handwritten calligraphy!”). The opposite is true too, where you can feel overwhelmed with the large number $$$ and become penny-wise and pound foolish (“Do we really need a photographer? Can our friends just use their phones?”)

After hiring my planner, choosing my venue, and prioritizing my spend, I was able to relax a little bit and enjoy the next steps in the planning process. I used timelines like the one below to keep me on track:

Pin from

I’ll be writing about my vendor dream team in a little while, once I get photos and videos back!

Next up – my bridal shower 🙂 stay tuned!


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  • Lillian September 6, 2019 at 8:28 am

    I am reliving this dream wedding and enjoying it.
    Great job. All your hard work shows.

  • Hanan September 9, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Michaela was definitely a superstar!! You were the most calm and beautiful bride!

  • Nabila Islam October 4, 2019 at 11:37 am

    You made a gorgeous bride and it seems like #jocelynsdreamweddingftazim was a smashing success! I just wanted to say re: the meme, throughout the entire planning process I tried to be very inclusive of Roman and get his input but most of the time he was good with letting me do whatever I wanted. Which sounds nice in theory, but when you want things to be a reflection of a couple, it’s hard to step out of yourself and ensure that things are not being skewed to one person. We are doing a second ceremony next year, and this time he’s stepping up more. Which is a nice break for me. I love planning, but for in terms of a wedding, I’d like more input than just what his outfit will be to match mine 😂
    I also agree that it’s important to figure out what you want out of your wedding as a couple. It will help direct the planning. We wanted great photographer and people to walk away feeling like they’d been at a party — so that’s what we planned for. Knowing we’d be spending money next year, we didn’t want to do the traditional wedding this year. It’s important to be on the same page, or figure out your compromises and stick to them because it can be very easy to derail when faced with the wedding industry and everyone else’s excitement in planning your wedding.

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi, Friend!

    I'm Jocelyn: a daydreamer and fashion lover disguised as a finance professional. My head may be in the clouds, but my stilettos are firmly planted on the ground ;)

    Jocelyn Caithness

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