Photo courtesy of

© Melissa Nowakowski December 2009

There are an abundance of winter wedding themes that add an extra dab of bliss to the holidays. But what wedding theme could be more warm and fuzzy than a Gingerbread Wedding!
Love the sweetness of Gingerbread but just can't see it in your wedding? This planner can!

Sit back with a warm cup of cocoa, close your eyes and picture this:

COLOURS: Cozy your wedding up in warm hues of tan, cream and poppy

FLORALS: Use cream coloured florals with a dab of brown hypercium berries for a splash of colour. Want to get super adorable? Have a lone Gingerbread bride peak out from the bouquet and accessorize the Groom's boutonniere with a miniature Gingerbread man!

CENTERPIECES: What could be more fun (not to mention über cute!) than Gingerbread houses of different shapes and sizes? (And you can just imagine the fight over who gets to take the centerpiece home!)

Photo courtesy of

MENU: Spice up your menu with the taste of Gingerbread (just be sure to add the flavour to specific menu items for impact rather than to everything)! Serve up Gingerbread Martini's (Absolut Vanilia, Kahlua and Gingerbread liqueur) during the cocktail hour and Hot Gingerbread Toddies or Lattes during dessert! Include baked German gingerbread apples with your late night table! Toss the traditional wedding dessert and offer Gingerbread Squares with Honey-Mascarpone Cream! The possibilities are endless!

CAKE: Forget the cake knife and server! Try a Gingerbread Wedding Chapel on for size and break a piece off the steeple in lieu of the traditional cutting of the cake. Let your guests come up and break off their own piece of the Chapel rather than serve cake.

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ENTERTAINMENT: Have a "Decorate your own gingerbread man" table set up with plain Gingerbread Men, icing, sprinkles, candy and more. You'd be surprised to see the excitement on children's faces and just how many adults sneak over to do it too!

FAVOURS: The obvious and most practical choice for favours would be Gingerbread men but there are an abundance of Gingerbread Men/House - themed items out there...everything from soaps to key chains and bookmarks. Other ideas? Make a donation in your guests' names to a homeless shelter or a charity 'house' like the Ronald MacDonald House.

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LOCATION: Host the wedding in a Victorian mansion or a building with similar architecture. Want to get really in theme and have a unique destination wedding? Host your wedding at the Gingerbread Mansion in Ferndale, California!

Photo courtesy of

Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?



Another photographer with whom I had the pleasure of working this past year, Joee Wong from JW Photography, is also offering a special gift to wedding couples in need. See below for a clip from his Blog about his BIG GIVE for 2010!

Good luck y'all!

Here we go ! The Big Give is back for a very special couple in 2010 ! Now that I have officially stopped taking anymore bookings for 2010, I’m hoping I will find a lucky couple sooner than later.

If you don’t know what this is all about, here’s a little information on my wedding giveaway…

Over the years, I have been truly blessed to be surrounded by amazing couples whom I have built strong relationships with as a result of documenting their weddings. They are the backbone of my business and I cannot thank them enough for spreading the good word about myself and my team. These former strangers have given me so much and I feel that it is only right that I give back to a deserving couple…What better once-in-a-lifetime experience can I give to someone than a once-in-a-lifetime WEDDING !

So here’s what is up for grabs:

- Full Wedding Day coverage with myself and my Associate(s)
- Engagement Session (if possible)
- JW Signature leather 12×12 30-page Flush Mount Album
- JW Signature leather 10×10 30-page Flush Mount Albums for Parents
- Up to 100 custom Thank You cards
- Edited high-resolution digital files
- Travel and accommodations inclusive !!!

This gift is valued at over $15,000 !

Here’s what I’m looking for:
- A couple who has a wonderful story of how they met or has overcome great odds and adversity
- Why photography is so important to them
- The couple must be getting married somewhere in North America in 2010 with a set date and venue, provided I am available for that date
- The couple must be willing to appear on this blog and have their story shared to my readers

How to submit the story:
- send your entries to with a small picture of the deserving couple
- entries can be submitted by anyone…friends or family of the couple or even the couple themselves…I am really hoping for an awesome, couple to do this for.

*** The DEADLINE for submissions has been tentatively set for January 15th, 2010 and the winner to be announced February 1, 2010. ***

There are absolutely no strings attached ! I’m a giver :) It’s just as simple as that.


I received this recently from Andreas Avdoulos from Andreas Photo with whom I had the pleasure of working this past year and thought I would pass it on...Good luck y'all!

A Special Donation:

Each year a few dozen families give me access to their lives for one day to document their wedding event. By establishing a strong level of trust and comfort between the couples that I work with, I am able to capture the images that you see in my gallery. Without them, I would not have the body of work that I do, and for that I am grateful.

This past week I confirmed that I'll be donating my photography services to a family in need through the Woodgreen Foundation in the form of a family portrait session and prints this coming spring.
In the spirit of giving and sharing, I've decided to offer a wedding photography package to one very lucky couple***!

This is what I'm offering:
- Rehearsal coverage OR an engagement shoot
- Full coverage by myself and my associate photographer
- Three bespoke 11x17 Japanese silk, hand bound 80 page books (One for the couple, two for the families), presented in archival clamshell boxes
- Twenty Artist signed and mated Fine Art 11x14 Gallery Prints
- Edited and post processed high-resolution files on personalized USB drives
- Online gallery for one year

This Wedding Collection has a value of over $14000, and I'll be donating this package to one lucky couple this year!!!

This is what I'm looking for:

1. A story about yourselves, about your life, and the details of how you met....the more details the better.
2. A couple who have gone through great hardships and heart aches to get to where they are today with their soulmate.
3. A couple who are willing to have their story published on this website and in print.

***If you're planning a big six figure wedding, and are in position to afford such a photography package, I'm afraid that you cannot qualify for this - this is not a freebee handout, but a charitable donation that I'm offering to a couple that are truly in need. Please keep this in mind when submitting your entry.

***Please send your submissions to by January 1st 2010.
***This donation is for 2010 and 2011 dates, provided I am available on the day.

Thank you for your help!

andreasphoto inc.
tel. 416 994 8131 email.



© Melissa Nowakowski November 2009

If there's one wedding staple that never seems to be overlooked it's the guestbook. However whether it truly has a place at a wedding is something that must be determined by those who are hosting the celebration. And to do that, you must first determine its worth.

Historically guestbooks have been used as a record of those who attended the wedding and included a space for their address and phone number. It was then used as an address book of sorts for the happy couple to look back upon and to also use to contact their guests with thanks.
Through the years however, guestbooks have turned into merely a record of those who attended the wedding with a space in which they write their best wishes.

Is this something that is important to a couple or is it merely an element of tradition? If a simple book of names means absolutely nothing to you then opt to not have it all. And if you do want something to look back on 20 years after the big day then this planner says make it count and choose an alternative to the boring old book that you will want to look at. Even "photo guestbooks" -- books of photos of the couple through their courtship for the guests to sign -- are becoming a big trend and can be seen at almost any wedding.

Being a fan of personalized, unique weddings, here are a few alternatives to the traditional guestbook:

Photo courtesy of

PUZZLE PIECES: Have your guests write a message on each puzzle piece and store the pieces in a decorative box without putting the pieces together. Years from now you can have fun putting together the puzzle pieces to see what each guest wrote!

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FUN PAGES: Create pages full of activities like couple trivia, "draw the happy couple", theme-related crosswords,etc. and let your guests have some fun filling out your guestbook!

SATIN WRAP: Lay the white satin wrap you wore for the ceremony on the table for guests to sign and store the wrap with your wedding gown!

SEALED WITH A KISS: Place decorative envelopes and white note cards on the table. Have your guests write a note to the happy couple (including their favourite memory of the big day) on the note cards and SEAL them inside the envelopes. Store the beautiful envelopes in a decorative box or vase. Opening the envelopes on a special wedding anniversary and reading the messages inside will be a sweet treat!

CHALKBOARD CHIC: Have your guests sign a chalkboard! Not only is it a fun alternative for the guests but a scrawled-upon chalkboard is currently a hot trend in home decor!

Photo courtesy of

TYPEWRITER: For the literary enthusiast, budding author or screenwriter a typewriter is a chic and amusing way for guests to record their best wishes.

WISH TREE: The wish tree is a growing trend wherein you supply decorative cards with a ribbon attached upon which guests can share their wishes for the couple and hang on a vase of branches or a manzanita tree. It's an elegant way to display your guests' messages. The key to making a wish tree unique is to choose decorative cards or shapes that reflect the couple's uniqueness? Some ideas? Pocket mirrors with a white card glued to the back for guests to write their wishes. The multiple hanging mirrors create a beautiful glistening effect, especially when surrounded by candlelight. another idea? Have fake solid-coloured decorative birds for the guests to write their names and wishes upon with a black felt marker and perch the birds in the tree.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

MEMORABLE OBJECTS: Of course, anything that is of symbolic importance to you can serve as a writing pad for guests from instruments, a favourite brand of wine and a piece of artwork to a heirloom like a passed-down platter, storybook or quilt.

ADDRESS BOOKS!!! Why not revert back to the guestbook's original purpose and have your guests fill in their names, addresses and telephone numbers? It's a great way to keep in touch with those who attended your wedding by providing an opportunity for you to send "Where are they now?" update letters every few years, to send holiday cards and, of course, to just keep in touch!

However you choose to incorporate a guestbook is up to you. Yet remember, if a guestbook holds no meaning for you, there's no need to have one at all. Your guests will likely not miss it. However if a record of your guests' attendance is something that is important to you, make it count and choose something that will still be important to you at your 50th wedding anniversary.

Happy planning!



H1N1 is nothing to laugh at and at this time of uncertainty shaking hands, hugging, kissing even those closest to us can be...well...downright scary. (Think of a receiving line at a 200 person wedding!)

That said, all the talk surrounding the H1N1 epidemic lately has inspired us to come up with a super cute favour idea that just might bring a smile to your guests faces in a time of fear -- scented antibacterial hand gels!

Bath and Body Works has some wonderful antibacterial hand gels ranging in scents from floral to citrus and even holiday-inspired scents! And at just $2 each, they not only fit into tiny pockets but in the smallest of budgets as well!

This planner has stocked up on these pocket-sized treats and here are a few of our favourites:



© Melissa Nowakowski October 2009

When one thinks of Halloween weddings images of costumes, pumpkins, orange and black and all things scary come to mind. But who says that a Halloween wedding has to be scary or limited to orange and black? With just the right touch of ghoul and glam a Halloween wedding can be oh-so-stylish!

Play with colours (even pink and black or a mixture of blues, purples and black can be just as theme accommodating as the traditional colours of orange, red and black).

Play with attire (who says that a black or red wedding gown has to be the only way to go?) Let your groom explore his creativity with accessories like canes, top hats, whimsical ties and boutonnieres.

Play with themes like a mad scientist's laboratory, a haunted Victorian mansion (think creepy Victorian paintings with the eyes cut out, candelabras with black candles, large Victorian-style throne-like chairs for the bride and groom's seats) , feathers and black lace (think swags of black lace running along the pews, black or purple feathers adorning bouquets and centerpieces, black lace overlays atop lush purple linens) or what is more fun at Halloween than candy! (think wreaths made of candy, lollipop bouquets, large vases filled with colourful, theme-coloured candy, a candy buffet in theme-coloured candy)

Play with your stationary. Why not have your invitation as a spooky riddle, shaped like a coffin, a toe tag from the morgue, or made to look like a death certificate?

Here are just a few images from which to gain inspiration. Remember, when it comes to Halloween anything goes!

Photo courtesy of The Spiral Stem

Photo courtesy of the Photo Card Chef

Photo courtesy of Claire Pettibone

Photo courtesy of Toybreaker

Photo courtesy of Haunted Collectibles

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Photo courtesy of Hostess with the Mostest

Photo courtesy of BHG

Photo courtesy of Hostess with the Mostest

Photo courtesy of Hostess with the Mostest

Photo courtesy of Hostess with the Mostest

Photo courtesy of Pink Cake Box

Photo courtesy of
Hostess with the Mostest



© Melissa Nowakowski October 2009

Serious fashionistas take note: the Fall 2009 Christian Dior collection is a fashionable Bride's dream. Inspired by the classic 1950s, Dior's collection takes the era's pretty skivvies and beautifully puts them out there for all to see.

And what colour! Dior's Fall 2009 couture, designed by the ever-so-fabulous John Galliano is bursting with it: fuschia, orange, yellow, red...the sky was the limit.

So can we use this stunning couture collection as inspiration for wedding runways? Absolutely! Colour, classic 1950s style and a little bit of daring fashion...what is not to love, admire and gain inspiration from?



Can you just picture an aisle runner lit up by some of these bold garments on a stylin' Bridal Party or a fashionista Bride workin' it in a wedding gown fashioned after one of these stunning ballgowns?

This Planner can!

Et Lofte Events had the honour of being a part of Ricky and Irene's September 26th wedding -- a beautiful fusion of their Chinese culture and their urban personality. Full of wit, sophistication and energy, Ricky and Irene ensured that their wedding day was a reflection of them as a couple while still honouring their cultural backgrounds.

The ceremony was held in front of a picturesque window at the chic Artagallery (even their adorable pooch was in attendance!) and despite the threat of rain, the wedding party was able to pose for their pictures throughout the surrounding Distillery District and among the architectural beauty of University College on the grounds of the University of Toronto.

The reception was held at the Capitol Event Theatre and beautifully decorated by Shermin at Petals and Twigs who also provided the ceremony decor, bouquets and boutinierres. Manzanita trees of orchids and dangling crystals adorned the Head Table engulfed by hydrangea and gorgeous foliage while a stem of hydrangea sat atop a tall vase with twisted wire on the surrounding tables. The tables were dressed with "Tavoli Gardens" linen from Around the Table and the beautiful gold and ivory padded Chivari Chairs from Chair Decor awaited their seated guests.

Ricky and Irene integrated their Chinese culture with their "western" decor by holding one of their tea ceremonies at the Capitol Event Theatre. They also provided a Photo-Album Guestbook along with the traditional red satin cloth for their guests to sign and held a toast to each table of guests during dinner with signature "Green Tea Martinis". And of course what Chinese wedding would be complete without a hilarious game or two with the Bride and Groom?

Irina and Mihkel Fortey from Irina Photography masterfully captured the wedding day in all its beauty with skillful eyes, creativity and a dash of humour that kept everyone at ease.

And the rain? The rain held off until the wedding party arrived at the reception. This Planner has always said that when it comes to weddings, the Sun Gods always smile upon her and provide a small miracle.