Cut wedding-day stress by leaving items like flowers, photography and food service to the experts (photo: Lise Gagne/iStock)

Wedding Essentials: When to Hire an Expert

By AMA Staff

The price of a wedding in Canada may lead some couples to roll up their sleeves and proclaim, “How hard can it be?” If Pinterest has taught us anything, it’s that handmade touches can add warmth and personal flair to your special day. But you can easily get in over your head. Here are a few wedding essentials that are best left to the experts:

Stand down, shutterbug cousin. Your wedding photos are meant last forever, so an investment is in order. Plus, pros know how to get great photos even in bad lighting and hectic moments—and can retouch if needed, after the fact. To find the perfect photographer, review past work in detail, including the poses, colours, lighting, sharpness and overall style of the photos. Are you seeing excitement, variety and emotion?

Paul Walker of McMaster Photographers suggests choosing a professional with a studio space, which is an indication of reliability and experience—not to mention a solid Plan B if the weather doesn’t cooperate for outdoor photos. “You should be looking at what kind of services they can offer if things don’t go right,” he says.

Sure, you have a favourite bloom. But do you know whether it will droop once cut? Or how long it takes to assemble and dismantle 50 centrepieces? Don’t go there. Hire a florist and give her as much leeway as possible.

“I would leave it to the florist to find the flowers that suit the wedding and not get too caught up in exactly what and how many in each arrangement,” says Heather de Kok of Grower Direct. The florist will look at your budget, your wedding style and which flowers are on the market to create the most stunning arrangements she can for the price. This last part is key: When some flowers are out of season, their price skyrockets, and quality can be patchy. That said, don’t worry if you’re really stuck on the look of an out-of-season flower. Any florist worth her shears should be able to suggest lookalikes in your palette and budget. A few examples:

• Tulips: Outside of spring, these can cost four times as much. Lisianthus is a great substitute. These affordable, bell-shaped flowers with ruffled petals come in white and shades of pink, lavender, purple and violet—and they’re grown year-round in South America.

• Peonies: Hothouse-grown peonies are rare, expensive and often smaller than their natural counterparts. Large garden roses can stand in year-round, in a comparable range of pinks, corals and reds.

• Hyacinth: When these true-blue spring flowers are no longer available, delphiniums—similarly stalky plants with violet, cobalt, indigo and cerulean blooms—fill their place beautifully and affordably.

Say it with us: You do not have time to prepare food on the day of your own wedding. Besides, many venues have strict rules about serving food only from licensed kitchens—so your homemade cupcakes and hummus might not even be street legal. Instead, consider making a simple-yet-scrumptious appetizer for one of the pre-wedding activities, such as the shower. Brad Lazarenko of Culina Restaurants and Catering in Edmonton offers this delicious recipe:

Gull Valley Tomato Caprese Brochette
• Gull Valley grape tomatoes
• Fresh fior di latte from White Gold Cheese (or other bocconcini)
• Fresh basil
• High-quality balsamic vinegar
• Salt and cracked black pepper

On a skewer, add one grape tomato, two pieces of fresh fior di latte and one leaf of fresh basil. Repeat for as many skewers as required for your party. Boil balsamic vinegar until thickened, let cool and drizzle over skewers. Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.

Memory maker
: Receive a $350 print credit on wedding sessions with McMaster Photographers.

Best blossoms: Save 10% on all in-store purchases at Grower Direct locations throughout Alberta. And in Edmonton, save 10% on fresh flowers, or choose free flower delivery within the city, from Studio Bloom.

Party for less: Save 5% (up to $50) on products and services—from chafing dishes and chairs to tables and tents—from Special Event Rentals, and save 10% on regular-price merchandise at Edmonton Wedding & Party Centre.

For the dance floor: Save $100 on DJ services and photo booth rentals from Twilite Music Services.

Sweets table: Save 10% on chocolate and treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and in Lethbridge, save 10% on baked goods at Crazy Cakes.

Great for groomsSave 10% on all purchases at Derks Formals.

Here comes the bride: Clients at Ethos Bridal save 200 on wedding gown purchases of $1,000 or more, plus save 10% on all regular-price merchandise.

Ring up a deal: Save 15% on regular-price in-store jewellery at Paris Jewellers

For all your wedding needs, from marriage licences to event liability insurance, visit

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