The VENUE Game

It’s the most exciting, yet overwhelming part of Wedding Planning. Securing the date and finding the venue that you’ve dreamed of all your life (no pressure)! Everyone’s asking you when and where you’re getting married, you literally just got engaged, you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to start.

Let us help you! The venue is one of the most important decisions in the planning process, and there are SO many elements to consider. Don’t rush this part, don’t jump in if you’re not fully ready to commit to the planning process yet, don’t make rash decisions. You’ll know, when you know. After all, you did say YES and land the perfect Fiancé, follow your heart and everything will fall in place. Trust yourself.

Now before you jump in, make sure you have established these 4 very important details first:

  • Guest Count

  • Budget

    • Remember from the Budgeting Blog Post - the venue (if including food & beverage) should be 40-50% of your total budget

  • Location

  • Season/Date

Begin the search, here are some of our favourite online tools for venue hunting:

Wedding Wire:

Event Source:

The Knot:

Narrow down your list to top 3 (4 max) and book in person site visits to see them. You really can have too many options, so be diligent with your research and narrow down the list before going in person, otherwise you will be overwhelmed. Send e-mails inquiring: ask questions like pricing, date availability, guest count; the more you know before you see the space the more you avoid disapointment.

We suggest you don’t bring too many people with you either, keep it simple, yourself, your fiancé and/or your wedding planner. Once you’ve found the one (even after you’ve booked it) you can bring your family & bridal party. When venue searching, there is such a a thing as too many chef’s in the kitchen.

Think out of the box, if a traditional venue (Banquet Hall, Hotel or Event Space) is not up your alley or maybe too large explore creative options such as your favourite restaurants, private home rentals or unique rental locations. Here are a few great links for unique spaces:

This Open Space:

Wedding Wire (Restaurants):

Venuement (Toronto only):

Here are some questions/considerations you should know when visiting the venue:

  • What are the designated Ceremony vs. Reception vs. Photo areas?

    • Double check the guest counts

  • What is the rain plan (both for the party/photos)?

  • Is there a rental price or a food & beverage minimum?

    • Consider different days of the week for savings, or timing of how long you have the space (evening vs. full day). How much time you have for set-up is important too!

    • Some venues have different gratuity rates, and/or coordination fees. Make sure you get all the numbers upfront to avoid surprises later.

  • What dates are available?

    • Ask to put your favourite(s) on hold while you decide

  • What is the parking/guest travel experience?

  • Is there in-house furniture that can be utilized? China, linens, napkins? Is this part of the rental cost or supplementary?

    • Make sure you ask to see the items (chairs, tables, bar units, etc) to ensure you have a sense of whether you’d like to use them or bring in your own.

  • Do they have any exclusive vendors? These are companies like AV, Catering, etc that you are forced to use at that space. Make sure you like their options if that is the case.

    • Do they have a kitchen? Do they have built in AV? If you are bringing in your own vendors it’s good to know what elements are already in house for savings purposes.

  • Be sure to tour the small spaces too:

    • Guest Bathrooms

    • Cost Check (depending on the season)

    • Bridal Suite - can you lock this room for valuables/gifts?

  • Do you love the space bare/as is without any decor?

    • Don’t be fooled by marketing photos, look at the bare bones of the space. Would you be happy if you didn’t add any decor? If you have to add decor do you need a lot of budget to bring it to the level of what you’re looking for?

  • Is the staff nice and accommodating? This is your Wedding planning family for the next year+ after-all.

You’ve found the venue that checks all your boxes, now make sure you ask for a detailed quote before locking it in. Analyze the numbers and make sure you are well aware of all the variables and costs before signing the contract. Ask to see a few sample floorplans and if they have in-house catering, how a meal tasting works?

Now, you’re all set. Lock in that date and the venue & you are ready to work on your Save-the-Date and all the fun details & accents to bring your space to life!

The best is yet to come!


Kalla’s Galas


Did you hear? There's something worth celebrating!

Etiquette 101 - Invitation Protocol


  • Send 4-6 months in advance of the big day

  • Why is this necessary?

    • Be mindful that your guests have to make arrangements for your big day (taking time off, travel, budgeting). They will always appreciate more than enough notice.

    • You may not be the only Wedding amongst your Friends and Family, help everyone know the date you picked to avoid any overlaps or confusions.

  • Must include Elements:

    • The DATE - of course!

    • Your Names

    • A beautiful photo (from your Engagement Session)

  • Optional Elements:

    • Wedding Website

    • Venue

    • Wedding Hashtag - get the social posting started early!

      • Hashtag Maker:

    • NO Registry (the Shower & Invitation is when this will be shared)


  • Distribute 6-8 weeks from Wedding Day

    • If its a Destination Wedding or there are many travelling in for your Wedding, send your Invitations out a few weeks earlier, as well as a Save-the-Date. They’ll appreciate the notice.

  • Why so close to the Wedding you may ask?

    • If you’re doing menu selection through the RSVP you’ll need to have these details first (which you won’t confirm with your venue until 2-3 months out)

    • RSVPs will be more accurate, it’s enough notice, but not too far that your guest knows their plans more definitely

  • RSVP Deadline - 2-3 weeks from the Wedding

    • Ensure you note the date you have to provide your venue with final guest count and dietary restrictions and provide yourself with a buffer of time for follow-ups with any guests you don’t hear from

  • Must include Elements:

    • Invited on behalf of statement (Parents, the Couple…) specifies who is paying for the Wedding (more traditional)

    • Bride & Groom Names (First & Last)

    • Date

    • Ceremony Time & Reception Time (if different locations)

      • Buffer it a bit earlier than the actual ceremony begins to allow for everyone to arrive in time

    • Venue Details (both locations if there are multiple). Full address to help the Google search!

    • RSVP Deadline & Details

      • Separate insert with envelope and stamp provided

      • OR Online service ( or a unique e-mail)

    • Optional:

      • Registry

      • Wedding Website

      • Dress Code

      • Dietary Selection/Restrictions

      • Wedding Hashtag


There is no right answer for this, it’s whatever works with your style, your budget and your vibe. So many beautiful options to choose from!

Here are a few of our favourite places:

  • Go Paperless - affordable & earth friendly:

    • Greenvelope: (charitable donation a plus)

  • Online Print Shops - that you can design from the comfort of your home

    • Shutterfly/Wedding Paper Divas:

    • Minted:

    • Vista Print: (budget friendly)

  • Paper Experts

    • The Papery:


  • Invite 10% more guests than you’d ideally like as your final guest count

  • 10-20% of guests will decline (more if it’s a destination/travel wedding)

  • 5% who RSVP yes may cancel last minute due to unplanned circumstances or illness


Be clear and specific on your envelopes as that explicitly outlines who is invited, avoid confusion here!

  • List the guests by full name

  • Include the guests name specifically where possible (make a hard cutoff to extend for new relationships)

  • Not everyone needs to receive a +1

  • Including “The NAME Family” implies children are invited, whereas listing the specific names does not

  • Don’t forget extra postage and return envelope if you are including RSVP cards

  • Including your mailing address in case of return to sender


  • Print a small run if you go digital, so you have a keepsake, and a few copies for your parents/ close friends & family

  • Print extras - pack it away in that Memory box

  • Have extras packed too bring on the Wedding day - Photographers do stunning vignettes with your Invitations!

  • Stick to a theme where possible with all your Stationary for consistency

Most importantly enjoy the selection & the beauty of your design. It’s a true capture of your special day, and one of the few pieces you will get to keep forever.

xx Kalla’s Galas


Your wedding may be more TRADITIONAL than you ever intended!

Why are Proposals done on one knee?

Speculated to be a gesture of loyalty, from the Middle Ages, during the great days of chivalry and knighthood, the act of knelling symbolized loyalty and obedience to their Lords. In religious context, knelling on one knee represents respect and submission to a higher power. In a modern context, it’s a humble acknowledgement that demonstrates inherent trust between partners, as well as devotion.

Wedding Toast

The tradition of toasting originates in ancient times, when the Greeks and the Romans would raise their cups in homage to their Gods, as well as drinking to each other’s health. The term “toast” was first used in the 16th century, from an ancient tradition that attempted to improve the taste of wine, by dropping a piece of toast into the bottom of the wine pitcher to determine the liquid’s acidity and cure its rancidness. As a sign of good hosting, the host would then eat the piece of bread after all the wine was consumed.

The Groom always stands on the Right

Although Weddings are much more civilized today, in the olden days, the man has to stand on the right so he could use his left hand to hold his beloved and draw his sword with his right, should anyone try to kidnap her. Now that’s chivalry.


Nowadays, Bridesmaids are filled with sisters, best friends and family to help you with the wedding planning and enjoy the celebrations with. But traditionally, having a bridesmaid started in Roman times. These Bridesmaids were instructed to all dress alike, so they could cause confusion and act as decoys to evil spirits trying to harm the Bride. The concept of identically dressed bridesmaids can be seen as far back to Victorian wedding photographs, as giving the bride extra protection from being kidnapped.

The Best Man

The best man was once referred to the quality of a man’s swordsmanship. Originally, when weddings were used as a business transaction rather than a union of love, the groom needed a good swordsman to help either retrieve a run-away bride or fend off a bride’s angry family that may not approve of the the union.

The Ring Finger

In the days before anyone truly understood the body ‘s circulatory system, the ancient Greeks believed there was a vein that connected this finger directly to the heart. Technically, all veins lead to the heart, but it’s a lovely meaning nonetheless.

The Wedding Veil

Roman brides wore bright veils to ward off evil spirits. For arranged marriages, it was to ensure that the Groom did not recourse based on looks. The long white veils began thanks to the Victorians in the 1860s, as a sign of wealth. The longer, whiter and heavier, the bigger the status symbol.

A White Wedding Dress

Queen Victoria started this tradition when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Prior to this women wore the most expensive dress their owned to their wedding day. Victoria selected white because it was the colour of her favourite lace. Later, the colour white was additionally associated with purity and the “virgin” bride. Lastly, it remained a sign of wealth, as only the wealthy could afford to keep a dress “white”.

Throwing of the Bouquet

An evolution of the concept of having a piece of something of the Bride’s as good luck. In the Medieval Times, at the end of the evening guests would rip the bride’s dress to keep a piece for themselves. Later, this morphed into the groom throwing the garter as a keepsake, to keep the luck-hunters at bay. Finally during the French 14th-century, they introduced tossing the bouquet as a more civilized alternative.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed & Something Blue

Originating from a Victorian rhyme, something old was to link the Bride to her past, more specifically to her life with her family she was leaving behind, traditionally gifted as a grandmother’s heirloom. Something new represented starting a new chapter in life, the future, and having something fresh to kick off this new chapter. Shoes are commonly the selected “new” option. Something borrowed was to remind the Bride that her family will always be around for her, typically borrowing her father’s handkerchief, to be returned after the honeymoon. Some opt to borrow from a successfully married relatively, as a sign of good luck. Lastly, everyone’s favourite, something blue, back in Biblical times, the colour blue meant purity, so wearing something blue gave you two chances to ensure you were “pure”. Typically something blue is stitched into the dress, worn under the dress or written under the shoe, as it was not meant to be explicitly seen.

Carrying Bouquets

The custom of bouquets, actually began with carrying aromatic bunches of herbs, garlic and spices to ward off evil spirits. It was also believed to be a preventative measure in contracting the plague. Modernly, this has been adapted to florals, as a symbol of the bride’s style, and they smell wonderful too. Bridesmaid’s also carried florals to ward off evil for the Bride. As Bridesmaids walked down the aisle first, the aroma also helped to ensure the Bride (in times without deodorant) smelt nice for her suitor. First impressions, do matter.

Saving the top layer of the Wedding Cake

“The cake we had at our wedding, then froze and ate one year later, was amazing!” - said no one ever. The top layer of the wedding cake was traditionally saved by the Bride and Groom to be used at their first child’s christening, as it was expected that the bride bare a child within the first year.

Throwing Rice

Tossing rice at the end of the ceremony is meant to symbolize rain, which is a sign of prosperity, fertility and good fortune. As most Bride’s would agree, they’d must rather be hit by flying rice, then have rain on their wedding day. This tradition has evolved into bubbles, confetti and many other fun variations. It looks great in pictures too!

The Threshold Carry

This custom, yet another safekeeping of the Bride. In Europe, it was believed that the Groom must carry the Bride over the threshold as she was vulnerable to evil spirits through her feet. The Bride and Groom wanted to prevent such spirits from entering the house, which may be lingering in the threshold. Now, it’s simply fun, and a test at how strong your partner really is.

The Ring Bearer and his Pillow

The ring bearer’s pillow symbolizes the promises of the dreams you have while sleeping, coming true. A small child is typically asked to carry the pillow which innocence, the future and new beginnings. Plus, it looks really cute.

xx Kalla’s Galas


A Wedding doesn't have to be expensive to be memorable

The dreaded Wedding planning conversation, but the catalyst for all elements of the planning process, it is time we talk WEDDING BUDGET. I promise it can be fun, and it will bring you that much closer to the night of your dreams.

It may work against everything you’ve learnt about budgeting to date, but Wedding Budgets work backwards. You must determine your final total cost and break it down from there. Weddings can come in all shapes and sizes, decor budgets will never end, there can be and will always be more you can add. The trick is to establish from the get-go the maximum you and your fiancé are willing to spend. Although daunting, it will ensure you are not disappointed, not in for a surprise you weren’t expecting, and that you don’t get too carried away while planning.

STEP 1: Total Budget

Think about the maximum amount you are willing to spend. This should include all elements of your Wedding day. From the morning of getting ready, to the end of the night, until you get to bed. Wedding budgets are not only the party part. You should (must) include a contingency amount in this, not in addition to, in order to cover any hidden expenses that you may have forgotten. This safety net is key. There is no rule of thumb for the total budget, it’s whatever works for you.

There is a beautiful wedding that can be planned for every type of budget. At the end of the day, it’s about being honest and setting realistic expectations. Remember, behind the smoke and curtains, everyone is there to celebrate your love, you’re there to commit to the love of your life and to make it official. That’s what marriage is after all, the party is simply a bonus!

A few questions to ask yourself when coming up with this number:

**All numbers can vary based on location, type of F&B experience, day of the week, etc.

  • How many guests are you inviting?

    • Dinner (3+ courses seated) & Drinks (open bar) are typically $150-$200 per person, that’s before rental of a venue or any decor.

  • Are you flexible on the day of the week?

    • Venues on Fridays & Sundays are cheaper for both the rental and F&B minimums vs. a Saturday.

  • What’s a number that you can “live with”, remembering that your Wedding is one night only.

    • How many months/years will it take for you to save up this money, or pay off? Are you willing to take that on, and possibly wait longer?

STEP 2: Breakdown of the Budget

Once you have that total budget number, it’s best to breakdown by section how the money should be allocated. This will vary based on what is most important to you. We highly recommend you determine your TOP 3 NON-NEGOTIABLE ELEMENTS for your big day and allocate the most money from your budget there. You can happily scale back on the other “less important” sections if need be. It’s good to be on the same page as a couple, and to remind yourself during spending what the priorities and monetary goals are. Budgets keep you accountable, ensure you are constantly updating and shifting it as needed throughout the planning process.

Most Popular Top 3 Non-Negotiables:

  • Delicious Food

  • Open Bar

  • Photographer - remember these photos last past the big day and we highly recommend you spend here!

Suggested Breakdown:

  • Venue (if including Food & Beverage) - 40-50%

    • Consider what in-house elements you receive and what you may need to spend additional on: Chairs, Tables, Linens, China, Glassware, etc

    • Staffing Costs

    • Cake Cutting Fees (when serving cake to the guest tables)

    • Ceremony fees (if using the same space for the Reception)

    • Vendor Meals (anyone who is staying throughout the entire evening require dinner ie. Photographer, Videographer, DJ, Planner)

    • Hotel drop fees to guest rooms (if your venue is a hotel and you’re leaving room gifts/baskets)

  • Ceremony - 2%

    • Rental Fee (if using a different space than the Reception)

    • Marriage License (look up your province rules and regulations in advance)

    • Officiant

    • Musical Entertainment

  • Photographer/Videographer - 20%

    • Engagement Photos

    • Rehearsal Photos

    • Secondary Shooter

  • Decor - 10-20%

    • Depends on importance of these elements

    • Flowers (bridal party only vs. decor & centrepieces)

    • Centrepieces

    • Candles

    • Additional Rentals (tables, chairs, linens, dance floor sticker)

  • Stationary/Paper Goods - 3-5%

    • Save-the Dates

    • Invitations (including RSVP cards)

    • Menu, Program, Escort Cards

    • Rehearsal Party

    • Postage

  • Attire for Bride and Groom - 8%

    • Look out for trunk sales on Bridal gowns & tuxes/suits

    • Accessories should be included (jewelry, cuff links, shoes, undergarments)

    • If you choose to pay for your Bridal Party this is an added cost or you should reduce the Bride & Groom spending

  • Hair & Make-up - 2%

    • Trial pre-wedding

    • If you choose to page for your Bridesmaid this is an added cost or you should reduce the Bride cost

  • Entertainment - 6-10%

    • Depending on what resonates with you, live music, DJ, strings can vary in costs

    • Photobooth

  • Miscellaneous - 2-8%

    • Transportation

    • Bridal Party Gifts/ Parent's Gifts/ Bride & Groom Gifts

    • Favours

    • Engagement Party, Rehearsal, Honeymoon and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties - these do not have to be included in this total but have you considered them? Who’s covering these costs?

  • Planner - 10-20%

    • Depending on the level of service (Full Service vs. Day of Coordinator)

  • Contingency Fund - 3-5%

    • Just in case, we all forget something

  • Tax & Gratuity - 18-22%

    • Don’t forget to include these in your total and that you're on the same page talking pre or post tax with your goals

    • Venue’s have a non-negotiable gratuity fee as do some other vendors (i.e. Transportation Limos)

STEP 4: Ways to Save

There are always ways to get “creative” and to save. Don’t be discouraged! Make it a fun challenge, do some DIY. The end result will be one you are proud of and the savings will help!

Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Alcohol Service: Depending on the venue, you can opt to serve only Beer & Wine. If you want an open bar, maybe control consumption by only serving wine to tables and closing the bar during the dinner portion. Opt not to do shots, or limit the options of your bar rail. Make the welcome Signature drink a mocktail instead of a cocktail, or eliminate all together.

  • Day of the Wedding: Choose a Friday or Sunday over a Saturday, they’re just as fun and can save you $5k off a venue rental! Consider an “off Season”, some venues offer discounts in the Winter and there’s so much potential for beauty from December-March or a Friday the 13th.

  • Bridal Party Attire: Let your Bridal Party select their own dresses, maybe even suits. This way they can spend as much or as little as they want and you are not responsible for supporting on this cost. Your flexibility and understanding is the gift, and believe us they will appreciate it. You can still control the colours, fabrics etc, but be open to flexing. With Hair & Make-up, you are not obliged as the Bride to pay for your Bridal Party so long as they are not forced to use the service, if it’s their choice they will be happy to pay.

  • Guest Favours: Although traditional, this is not needed. Feel free to make a donation, or do a fun interactive station that is part of the experience (i.e. candy station with take-home bags as part of dessert, hot chocolate station with take-home mugs), but you don’t have to get an item per guest to leave at their table setting. We promise, many will be left behind and forgotten. The trick is incorporate it in a pre-existing element rather than introducing another layer.

  • Menu Selection: If you select a venue where you are paying by the course, opt not to do Dessert at the table. Instead, do Dessert as a passed service or Food Station, limiting the cost per person and number of served courses.

  • Cake: Especially if this is not your favourite dessert, opt not to do a slice per person and purchase a smaller one. Don’t serve it to the guests at their table, rather have it cut and served at a food station. You will avoid unnecessary cake cutting fees and many guests won’t eat the cake anyways, why waste it?

  • Ceremony Location: Consider hosting both your Ceremony and Reception at the same venue - saving costs on Transportation, and also logistical headaches for yourself and your guests. The cost to rent two separate spaces will also incur additional budget.

  • Engagement Photos: Opt to use your selected Wedding Photographer for this. They typically will have a discounted package price and it’s highly recommended to do a photoshoot in advance with your photographer for comfort and expectations of the final product.

  • Go Paperless: Opt to not include printed assets at the wedding (program, menu, escort cards) and use an online invitation software (Greenvelope, The Knot) to send digital Invitations and avoid those postage fees! Reminder if you send printed Invitations you have to include a stamp for both the mailing and the return RSVP card, it adds up!

  • Hair & Makeup: Use your trials strategically, for the Bridal Shower for example. It’s highly recommended that you try your styles in advance. Early enough to make changes, but not too early that your vision changes. Lastly, some companies offer both services, and get a better bundle rate.

  • Venue: Love the venue as it is “bare” without the glitz and glam. Check out what’s offered in-house in terms of rentals. The more you love the space as it is, the less you have to spend dressing it up with decor. Also, you won’t be discouraged the day of your Wedding when your vision doesn’t come to life exactly as you had dreamed, because you couldn’t support the price tag.

There is no right or wrong answers when planning YOUR Wedding. Remember at the end of the day you wan’t it to feel true to your relationship and your wallet, that’s how you will look back with the fondest of memories.

Questions? Need help managing a Budget? Need a template? That’s where we come in, never hesitate to ask!

xx Kalla’s Galas


I'm ENGAGED! Now what do I do?

STEP 1: Be Engaged

First of all, you’re ENGAGED, a huge congratulations on this most exciting time! You have officially decided to commit to the love of your life and to embark on a new journey as a Husband or a Wife. It’s a BIG deal. Enjoy the Engagement time, seriously! It’s similar to the Honeymoon phase, it only happens once and you don’t want to miss it. Take a moment to enjoy the exciting news, just the two of you, before you make your official announcement to Family, Friends and on your social networks. It’s your moment, enjoy it together you won’t regret it. You’ve probably stumbled upon Kalla’s Galas, because you’re already trying to plan, that’s great we’d love to hear from you, but in a few weeks after becoming a “Fiancé” has really set in. This is a once in a lifetime moment, take it in.

STEP 2: Plan Smart

Now, the number one question we are always asked is “How much does a Wedding cost”? Guess what, there is no one answer. A “Wedding” can mean so many different things to different people, and therefore the cost can vary dramatically. If we told you the average cost of a wedding according to stats from the year, you may be disappointed or extremely relieved, that’s not the right way to start planning. In order to help guide you we also ask you to decide on 3 very important details, before we get started. Once you sort out these answers, then give us a call and we are ready to jump in and help, we highly recommend professional resources to ease and allow you to enjoy the planning process!

  • DETAIL 1: The Guest List

    • That’s right - time to decide who you’re inviting, at the very least you need to get a sense of how many guests you’re expecting. This will dictate your venue and your budget. The two most important elements after all.

    • Fun Facts: 10% of your invited guest list will RSVP Regrets, 20% if its a travel and/or destination Wedding.

    • The list will never be complete - not until the Invitations go out. It’s a working document and probably the hardest exercise and decision making of the whole process, but it is the most important one!

    • Guest List Template - More details in another Blog Post

  • DETAIL 2: The Budget

    • What’s your budget? We are posing the question back to you. What is your low and your high? The absolute MAX you will not be able to surpass? It’s important you set these expectations from the get go and explore options (venues, seasons, guest count) that fit within these expectations. You plan a Wedding to a budget, not a budget to a Wedding.

    • Budget Questions - More details in another Blog Post

  • DETAIL 3: The Date

    • Are you Season specific? Does it have to be a Friday vs. a Saturday? Are you set on a certain Month or certain date? Be upfront about these details, to avoid any disappointment. No harm not knowing, you can be open to anything, that works too, but if you are specific be specific from the beginning.

    • Fridays are in fact cheaper than Saturday, and a lot of fun, we highly recommend it!

    • There is no bad season for a Wedding, what matters is the look and feel that you want to achieve. Soft Colours and outdoor greenery photos in the Summer, deep warm hues, pumpkins, and leaves in the Fall, Fur white elegance and Holiday spirit in the Winter or umbrellas and peonies in the Spring.

    • Venue Questions - More details in another Blog Post

STEP 3: Top Three Must Haves

  • Before any planning can begin you need to sit down the two of you and decide three elements that are the MOST important and non-negotiable elements of your big day.

  • Examples of this include: Delicious Food, Open Bar, Live Entertainment, My dream dress, outdoor photos, harvest tables only, etc.

  • Stick to your Top 3, make them a priority and focus your budget and your energy on making these elements the BEST, you won’t regret it.

  • Be on the same page, decide on these elements together. This way, on the big day you both won’t be disappointed.

  • Consider including a Veto card - where you can have 1 must have not on the top 3 list that your partner may not agree with. Remember only 1 each!

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more posts,

xx Kalla’s Galas