Why I Didn't Hire a Wedding Planner

Thinking back to when we were planning our wedding, I'm not even sure that I knew there was such a thing as a wedding planner in Winnipeg. Regardless, I was more than happy to take on the tasks of researching and selecting vendors and sourcing all the decor.

Planning our wedding would be fun and my fiancé and I would get to make all the decisions, down to the tiniest detail. I had an hour or two free every week to chip away at our big day that was yet a year and a half away, and this way a planner wasn't another expense to save up for.

Rose Gold Wedding Rings at Fort Garry Hotel Wedding Winnipeg Manitoba

Why I Wish We Had

Being the host and planner is hard. It means you don't get to fully appreciate all the little details and surprises from your own party. I find great pleasure in planning beautiful celebrations, including our family's, but honestly, there are times when even the planner wishes they had a planner.

1. Wedding planning takes time. Evenings and weekends were spent building our wedding website, designing and proofreading stationery, responding to vendor emails that I didn't yet know the answers to (my only source of information for planning a wedding at the time was from magazines), reviewing contracts, managing our budget, and spending countless hours on DIY items that I now know much faster and cheaper ways to do. If you have a demanding job, children, or hobbies that you'd rather not get pulled away from, planners are your personal assistant for all things wedding.

2. It's not always fun. Sure, browsing Pinterest for ideas, eating cake, and flouncing around in sample dresses is fun; but there's not much to smile about when building a budget and tracking payments in Excel, reviewing vendor contracts, and going down a list of rental companies to call for that one thing you need. Turns out that handing your wedding over to a professional doesn't take the fun away, it makes it more fun. Wedding planners are a filter for keeping the process of planning a wedding enjoyable while still leaving you in control with final decisions.

3. Someone needs to be the main point of contact on your wedding day. Without a wedding planner, it will (most likely) be the bride. I remember running to the reception hall to make sure the centrepieces were in place and the cake had arrived, being asked where cables were for the DJ, and getting pulled off the dance floor to respond to questions from the venue coordinator. Thankfully we had a great MC and venue coordinator that kept to my carefully plotted evening itinerary, but needing to be involved in everything distracted me from fully enjoying the day.

Newspaper Wedding Program at Fort Garry Hotel Winnipeg Manitoba
Winnipeg Winter Groom in Tiger of Sweden Suit at Fort Garry Hotel Winnipeg Manitoba
Winnipeg Winter Bride in Justin Alexander at Fort Garry Hotel Winnipeg Manitoba
Winnipeg Winter Wedding at Fort Garry Hotel

4. A wedding planner can save you money. When we got engaged we didn't know what things cost. We started with a budget of $18,000 and later realized our vision needed a budget of something more like $30,000. Since some details were already booked, we ended up locked in on spending more than we hoped. A professional planner is another line item on the budget, but a good one will cater their services to fit within your budget, start you off right with a realistic budget that balances what you want with what you can afford, pass along exclusive vendor discounts, and avoid costly mistakes.

5. Something will go wrong. On our wedding day I scheduled bridal portraits to finish half an hour before the ceremony (which is fine), but we ended up doing the photos close to where guests began arriving and some saw me before I walked the aisle. It was stressful trying to escape through an excited, small crowd with a 10' veil and 5' train, something a wedding planner would have calmly assisted with in sneaking me away. Thankfully nothing major went wrong on our wedding day, but what if something had? There are always last minute decisions to be made and often little emergencies. If something goes wrong, a planner will deal with it and it's likely that you (or your guests) will never even know of those little emergencies that went on behind the scenes on your perfect day.

White Groom Boutonniere by Fache Floral Design Winnipeg
White Cascading Bouquet by Fache Floral Design
Winter Wedding wtih White Dress Bridesmaids

6. Help is limited. The helpful venue coordinator included in your reception rental fee often isn't available to go beyond managing the logistics of the venue. They are there to ensure all aspects of the contract between you and the venue are executed, and that the venue's policies are followed. They may supply a list of preferred third party vendors, but they will not advise on vendors that fit your budget or style, schedule and attend vendor meetings, review resulting contracts and ensure they are adhered to on the day of the wedding, setup wedding decor, create a timeline, ensure your meticulously planned wedding day itinerary is followed, or quickly stitch up a tear in your groom's suit. That's what wedding planners are for!

First Dance at Fort Garry Hotel Crystal Ballroom

7. It's a big day for family and friends, too. And you probably want them to enjoy celebrating, right? Our family and wedding party worked their bums off the night before our wedding, hauling rentals and decor to the venue, setting it all up and then taking it all back down at the end of the night. In hindsight, I wish we had just left it to a professional to oversee our day. Loved ones play an incredibly important role in the wedding, and that is to be 100% present in supporting your life-long commitment.

Your wedding day can't be repeated and having a professional on hand can be a real lifesaver in so many ways. If you're considering tackling your big day all on your own, take some time to meet with a professional wedding planner. I always recommend, at the very least, hiring a wedding planner for month-of coordination (also known as day-of). It's one of the best investments you can make. You deserve an amazing, stress-free wedding day.

Feast & Festivities offers everything from full-service planning and design to month-of coordination and hourly consulting. Wherever you are in your planning stages, get in touch with us for a free initial meeting. Let's chat!


Photos by Sugar & Soul Photography

Sunrise Brunch Inspiration | Winnipeg Wedding Planners Styled Editorial

The wonderful ladies behind Host Winnipeg and Stonehouse Creative put on the first Winnipeg Wedding Planners Styled Editorial this summer and Feast & Festivities got to join in on this fun day alongside so many talented ladies. What an honour!

Armed with a team of talented creatives and vendors, buckets of colourful flowers, and a selection of table setting goods, each planner had a unique take on pulling together a styled table and bride.

We are so excited to share with you some shots from our Sunrise Brunch Wedding theme taken by Aly of Victoria Anne Photography.

Sunrise Brunch Wedding Table
Pink Floral Centrepiece
Pink Floral Centrepiece Ingredients
Sunrise Brunch Wedding Inspiration
Sunrise Brunch Wedding Inspiration by Feast & Festivities
Summer Brunch Tent Wedding
Sunrise Brunch Wedding Inspiration by Feast & Festivities
Outdoor Summer Brunch
Brunch Wedding Newspaper Program
Sunrise Brunch Wedding Inspiration
Brunch Pancake Placecard
Brunch Wedding Bridal Style
Pink Floral Ingredients
Bridal Makeup and Hair
Pancake Stack Name Cards
Sunrise Brunch Floral Centrepiece and Garland Runner
Tent Wedding Table Setting
Pink and Gold Brunch Wedding Inspiration
Brunch Wedding Style Inspiration
Mr. and Mrs. Table Runner
Brunch Wedding Sun Hat
Mr and Mrs Tea Towel
Coffee Bean Favours
Coffee Wedding Favour Tray
Sunrise Brunch Wedding Orange Juice Detail Inspiration
Floral Garland Runner Brunch Wedding

Florals and Host | Stone House Creative
Host | Host Winnipeg
Venue | Cielo's Garden
Photography | Victoria Anne Photography
Backdrop and Linen | Planned Perfectly
Bridal Gown | Bliss Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid Dress | Mad About Style
Makeup | Makeup Expressions by Rimpal
Model | Vanessa Kolthof
Hair | Krystle Taylor
Sweets | Laugh Love Cakes
Linen Details | The Flower Cult
Styling/Design and Paper Goods | Feast & Festivities

10 Rules for Hosting a Dinner Party

A great dinner party requires a more than simply inviting guests and serving food. Here's 10 rules to follow for your next get together, along with some photos from a recent Industrial Jungle Home Dinner Party we had the pleasure of designing for Corin and Jeremy!

Dinner Tablescape

1 | Keep the guest list manageable

Consider the size of your dining table, and how much you are willing to spend on food, table settings, and decor. If you're new to hosting, start with inviting 2-4 guests.

2 | Make it special

Invest in creating a theme, such as a colour scheme, story, or element to incorporate throughout the decor, food, and drink. A fresh floral centrepiece and personal place card at each setting makes a big impact.

Dinner Party Jungle Invitation
Dinner Party Name Card
Dinner Party Place Setting
Dinner Party Tablescape
Dinner Party Table

3 | Use recipes you are familiar with

Whether you make a kick-ass Beef Wellington or pizza, serve what you know, and save the experimenting for another time. Your guests will appreciate a tasty meal over something out of your league. (Note: Be mindful of dietary restrictions. We all have our reasons for eating the way we do: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. Support one another and offer variety.)

Dinner Party Grocery List
Cooking in the Kitchen
Dinner Party Menu Stationery

4 | Introduce guests to one another as they arrive

If you're hosting a large group and guests are not much familiar with one another, ask your closest friend or couple to join half an hour earlier to get the party started, and ease any nerves you may have before everyone arrives.

5 | Serve appetizers within 20 minutes of guests' arrival

Most come hungry. A general rule of thumb is to count on serving 2-3 appetizer bites per person.

Dinner Party Mingling
Carmelized Onion Crostini Appetizer
Cashew Dip Appetizer
Dinner Party Cooking

6 | Serve family style

No need to serve each guest a plated meal. Guests make instant connections through passing dishes around the table. After all, food brings us together. Just make sure you have enough room on the dining table or a buffet near by to place the dishes on after they are passed around.

7 | Spark good conversation

My husband once shared with me a quote from Henry Thomas Buckle, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". Although we must, at some point discuss each of these topics, I generally believe this thought to be true.

Dinner Family Style
Dinner Party Conversation
Dinner Party Dessert
Dinner Party Eating

8 | Wait until everyone is finished eating before clearing the table

It's classic service etiquette and protects a shared dining experience between slow and fast eaters. And, if you really want follow classic etiquette, serve from the right and clear from the right.

9 | Accept help

If a guest offers (often insisting) to join in cleaning, take them up on it. They are most likely offering because they want to, and it's not a burden. It's an opportunity to spend time together (and move along to enjoying dessert sooner)!

10 | Be mindful of alcohol consumption

If a guest has had one too many, call for a cab on their behalf so everyone gets home safely. (Or do like Corin and Jeremy and invite your neighbors)!

Dinner Party Cocktail Bar
Dinner Party Mixing Drink
Dinner Party Appetizers
Dinner Party Cocktails
Dinner Party Toast

Thank you so much for having us, Corin and Jeremy!

Photography | Gabrielle Touchette Photography
Florals | Stonehouse Creative
Stationery | Jessica Alcantara
Design and Styling | Feast & Festivities

DIY Easter Egg Cake Pops

I know cake pops are so 2012, but I just had to share this unique take on them that I came up with in the kitchen. You guys, they have a yellow centre! A super fun Easter treat to package up in cardboard egg containers and share with friends.


- What You'll Need -

Two white cakes (dye one yellow)
White Candy Melts
Styrofoam or Cardboard Box (ex. Pizza Box)


- Photo Instructions -

(written instructions below)

1 | Bake Cakes

Use your favourite white cake to make two cakes, dying one of the batters yellow for the yolk, and bake. The yellow cake can be about half the size of the white cake. Once the cakes are cooled, crumble them each in a separate bowl. You can make your cake balls smooth an easy to work with by using a pastry cutter. Set aside.

2 | Mix Icing

Whip up your favourite icing recipe. I use a cream cheese frosting. Add, bit by bit, just enough icing to the cake crumbles to allow it to adhere together in the shape of a ball when rolled between your hands.

3 | Shape

Start by rolling the yellow cake mixture into just short of 1" round balls. These will make the 'egg yolks'. You'll want these to be cooled and hardened before wrapping in the white cake mixture ('egg white'), so place them in the freezer on a tray lined with parchment paper as you work.

Once you've finished all the egg yolk centres, take out a few at a time from the freezer to wrap the egg white cake mix around. Use about four times the amount of white cake as the yellow cake centre.

It will take some practice to get the right egg shape. Start by spreading the white cake evenly around the yolk and roll into a smooth ball. Once you have a ball you can pinch a point and start shaping it smooth again as a sort of pointed oval.

Stick a toothpick in the wider end and place in the fridge. I suggest the fridge this time because you don't want the cake balls to be too cold when dipping in the melted candy, as the candy shell may crack as it sets. 

4 | Dip

Once all your eggs are shaped and in the fridge with their toothpick, melt the Candy Melts in a bowl over some boiling water on the stove. Pour the smooth melted candy into a somewhat tall, narrow glass. I used a measuring cup. Just make sure the melted candy is deep enough to dip the egg in fully.

Take a few eggs out of the fridge at a time and dip in the melted candy. Be careful not to dip too much of the toothpick in, as this will make it hard to remove when dry. Keep the shell smooth by letting any excess drip off and rotating the egg for several seconds as the candy sets. Top with your favourite sprinkles, or leave naked, and use the toothpick to stand them up on a cardboard box or styrofoam to dry. Once dry, carefully pull out the toothpick and enjoy!

Enzo's Birth Story: Part 2

I've written my version of Enzo’s birth story not as a continuation of Emily's, but to share it from a different (and, at times, more conscious) perspective. If you have not yet read her post, do that first. In fact, since it took me so long to publish this you may want to just go back and read Emily’s story again now. - Jeff Janzen

It began on Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 in an unexpected way. What Emily and I thought would be a routine trip to the OB/GYN for our last scheduled prenatal appointment turned out to be the last drive we'd take together in our two-seater for a long time (no, it’s not for sale).

Emily at 30 weeks pregnant.

Emily at 30 weeks pregnant.

Emily’s blood pressure had been normal for the entire pregnancy, never raising concerns. But suddenly, we discovered, it had climbed. We were told to go immediately across the street to St. Boniface Hospital to visit Obstetrics Triage on the 3rd floor for some testing. We also realized that over the past two days she had been experiencing symptoms of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that affects about 6% of pregnant women and has something to do with the mother’s body not being cool with the placenta anymore. If left untreated it can be fatal, and the only cure is delivering the baby.

Finding ourselves among those 6%, we were lucky because Emily's only developed at 39 weeks, so there was no risk of a premature birth. Many women find themselves faced with a rather unpleasant pair of options: induce birth prematurely, or wait and hope the preeclampsia can be controlled with blood pressure medication. We were looking at a full-term baby either way, but there was a good chance that we would have to induce labour today.

Today!? Holy crap.

Being told that you’re going to have a baby in the next day or so isn’t as exciting as you think it might be. You always picture it happening a certain way. Hopefully, you're at home when the contractions start getting more frequent and more intense. Then you get confused about whether you're really in labour, eventually realize that you are, let the excitement sink in, and settle down with some movies, games or other distractions until the contractions become sufficiently long and frequent that you can relocate to the Hospital. That’s what they tell you to prepare for, anyway.

None of that was happening, and it was hard to take. We held each other as we waited in triage, Emily now wearing a hospital gown. We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that we would soon meet the little one we'd been waiting for, and got the lowdown on the risks and benefits of induced labour from a very helpful doctor and Google.

“Ok, let’s do it," we finally concluded.

Since mom’s body doesn’t know it’s about to give birth, they first supply you with a synthetic version of the chemical that women normally produce when it’s time to warm up the machinery. For the next 12 to 24 hours, we were told, we would wait in a hospital room while induced labour drug number one (of two) did its thing.

It was not a comfortable room; not even remotely accommodating of couples. Emily shared the room with another fearfully expectant mother, there was no chair or bench, and they wouldn’t let me bring a bedroll to sleep on the floor. At the time, this struck me as an atrocity. Put yourself in Emily's shoes for a moment and you'll understand why: You are being induced into labour, which means there is some kind of threat to the health of your baby or yourself. So you are understandably afraid and uncomfortable, and now you are being asked to spend the entire night without the person best equipped to help you feel calm and comfortable. (A note to anyone in the industry: This part of the process is broken.) After some persistent badgering mostly by Emily’s wonderful mother, Sue, who was with us for a few hours that night and would return for labour the next day, either compassion or fed-upness prevailed and the staff granted me permission stay in the room. We made it work with some serious spoonery in the extremely small bed. It’s a good thing neither of us take up much space.

The next morning, a Resident came in to check on drug number one’s progress and told us it hadn’t worked well enough to move to number two, so we’d have to keep waiting. We decided it would be a good time for me to run home, take a much needed shower and mentally prepare for my upcoming role as labour coach.

I managed to just get cleaned up before receiving a text from Emily telling me that when I got back, she would be back in Obstetrics Triage. It turns out the Resident had made a miscalculation and drug number one had worked. It wouldn’t be long before she would be would be squeezing out our offspring, so back I went in a hurry.

I want to give credit where it's due: The half-hour excursion we were encouraged to take before Emily was hooked up to the IV from which drug number two would drip may stand as the best single memory from our near-weeklong stay. Kudos to whoever made sure it was a part of our induced labour experience.

Emily enjoying some fresh air on our walkabout just before the big show.

Emily enjoying some fresh air on our walkabout just before the big show.

It was around 3:15pm when we began active labour. I say "we" because there appears to be no such thing as one person in a room being in labour while others are present. It consumed everything, and every bit of attention, emotion, and impulse I had for the next 6 hours was driven by it. I was in awe of Emily's ability to breath through the contractions, and of the bond between mother and daughter as Sue took her turns coaching. I was intensely focused on keeping Emily's attention when it was my turn, and on doing whatever it took to minimize her discomfort when it was not. It was at times intense and at brief moments relaxed and even kinda fun, and it went by quickly, right up until the moment it happened.

It's cliche but there is no better way to say it: Those few minutes felt like forever.

Staff became a bit worried when Emily wasn’t fully dilated but was having a hard time fighting the urge to push, so extra precautions had to be taken. They moved her to the operating room and I was allowed to follow, but Sue had to stay outside. The room filled with five or six attendants ready to pitch in if needed.

No more than a couple minutes went by before our doctor announced that things were now progressing well and that there would, in fact be no C-section! Cheers from the attendant staff made us feel like the worst was behind us, when in fact it was just around the corner.

After nearly an hour of directed pushing (the 10-seconds-on 30-seconds-off routine you see on TV), with baby's head crowning and just minutes from birth, Emily's blood pressure spiked.

Mine probably did too.

Her body stiffened, her jaw clenched, I don't know if her eyes were open or closed. She stopped breathing and I watched my favourite face in the world turn blue in mere seconds.

"She's seizing," Dr. Robinson proclaimed firmly. “Code Blue."

Fear and confusion gripped me more fiercly than any emotion ever has (I feel it again as I write this), and a hundred thoughts fired through my mind as quickly as the dozen or more emergency staff raced into the room.

“What just happened? What’s happening now? Why is she that colour? What can I do? Is she OK? Emily, can you hear me? Please stay with me. Please hang on. The baby is coming out! Yup, it’s a boy, no surprise... WE HAVE A BOY, EMILY! WE HAVE AN ENZO! Can you hear me? She couldn’t die from this, could she? Holy shit, she could! They’re trying to save her life! Hey hurry up with that tube thing. Just pull her mouth open! Am I watching my wife die right now?"

I don’t know how much time passed before I was told it was time to leave the room as the rest of the response team poured in, but it couldn’t have been more than about 30 seconds. My thoughts remained just clear enough to be slightly in awe of the team of professionals springing to action. “Cool,” I thought, as I turned the corner and headed toward the hallway where Sue was waiting with her characteristic composure. That was roughly the point when I lost mine.

Watching staff continue to rush back and forth in the hallway was excruciating. I’ve never been so afraid in my life. I felt vulnerable and confused, and I wondered if I could possibly raise a child without Emily (I was pretty sure I couldn’t). Sue and I held and consoled each other, or maybe she mostly consoled me. Having some knowledge of seizures with Emily’s brother, Josh, Sue tried to pry out little updates as staff slowly began to leave the room at a less hurried pace.

Finally, we got what we were waiting for. “I think she’s going to be ok,” one of them said as he passed.

Enzo was brought out a few minutes later bruised from the forceps, but otherwise perfect. I held him there in the hallway while a nurse explained that he would soon get to meet mommy, too.

Enzo Lawrence Janzen, born at 9:48 pm on August 27th, 2015.

Enzo Lawrence Janzen, born at 9:48 pm on August 27th, 2015.

Next, the staff weighed and measured him (8lbs. 6.6oz, 20.5”), and I fed him some infant formula. The drugs that Emily was given during her seizure would take 24 hours to clear her system, so we couldn’t exclusively breastfeed right away like we had planned. Plus, she would still be fully sedated for a couple hours to allow her body to recuperate.

You’ll remember the notes that Emily typed on my phone from her version of the story. She had woken up in the ICU, confused and in pain, and her head was foggy. After her third or fourth time asking why she had a seizure - and me starting to wonder if she had suffered some permanent damage - she finally understood that she had suffered eclampsia. Her first sight of our baby boy was of a photograph on my phone. I can’t imagine how strange that must have felt.

(A brief aside: I’ve always wondered this and now I have the answer... Yes, it is possible to know that your own baby isn’t cute. Enzo looked like an evil Mr. Magoo in his first photo. His eyes were squinty and beady at the same time, he had no hair on the top of his head, and his hands were claw-like and too big for his body. Thankfully that all passed and he has now claimed his rightful title as the cutest baby in the world.)

Emily and Enzo finally met face-to-face at 1:30 AM, three and a half hours after birth, and shared a few short and sweet naps together. Sue and I took turns sitting by their side that night while the other one slept in another room, a couple hours at a time, until the morning.

Emily’s condition slowly improved and some time that morning, the breathing tube was removed from her throat. Throughout that first day we had our families stop by for some visits and Emily was rolled from ICU up to Obstetrics for further observation, and finally to our private room just in time for night.

That room would end up being our home for nearly three days (which felt like 10), as the nurses and doctors kept a close eye on Emily’s blood pressure and Enzo’s weight. The room had plenty of sunlight, and the staff were caring and helpful. There, we learned how to swaddle Enzo properly, how to calm him down and squeeze in a workout at the same time by doing squats, how to begin feeding him the right way, and pretty much the entire hospital menu rotation. We also learned how many great friends we have, with many of them coming to visit while we were still there.

For Emily, it was a longer road to recovery than most new mothers get to travel. This is far from an exhaustive list because the details are really not my story to tell, but I will try to give you just an idea of what Emily went through during that time. There were blood tests several times daily and blood pressure checks every couple hours. For the first day, she couldn’t walk, swollen and in pain from head to toe, some parts quite severe. Eating was a challenge because her arms were badly bruised from the blood tests and IVs. Improper latching was causing breast pain (Enzo was a lazy eater for the first few weeks), and all this was on top of the usual painful parts of childbirth recovery, exacerbated by the use of forceps. Mentally, we worked together to piece together the memories Emily had of her labour, and she struggled to come to terms with missing out on the experience she was most looking forward to: those first moments with our new baby.

It was hard work for Emily, and I was amazed by her strength and perseverance. She was determined to get Enzo breastfeeding as soon as she could (it’s not as easy as you think, guys), and to build the relationship with him that we thought would just appear when he did. And just as I was there to support her, she never failed to reciprocate, asking frequently how I was doing, whether I needed a rest, and how I was coping with the trauma of watching her stop breathing on the delivery table. Many fathers in similar situations end up with panic attacks and other symptoms of PTSD, we were told. Thankfully, after retelling the story to friends and family enough times to fully understand how I feel about it, I am OK.

So what’s happened with Enzo since late-August?

Well, Enzo is now six months old. He is a matchstick - taller than 99% of babies his age and skinnier than a majority too, with a pretty big head. He likes to pull himself up to a standing position if you offer him your hands, and he’ll even do a little bit of walking (or dancing - it’s hard to tell) if you keep holding on. He’s learning to inch across the floor like a worm and we fear he will soon be crawling around to show us what needs to be baby-proofed. He loves when mommy reads him stories and he still hates going to sleep (the first few months were pretty painful - lots of crying and screaming), but he’s getting better at it.

He’s starting to eat some solid foods which makes for great mealtime entertainment, and he’s smiling and happy for most of every day. He loves going for walks, even in the cold, and his giggles are intoxicating. I make sure to tickle his neck with my face every single day because I just can’t get enough of them.

The most frequent comment about Enzo from strangers is, “he’s so alert/attentive!” A pharmacist we recently visited said she felt like he was listening in on her advice to mommy and judging whether or not she could be trusted. That’s my boy!

Enzo and I.

Enzo and I.