PARTY PLANNERS’ GUIDE: Everything you need to know to make your wedding extra special


WITH PARTY PRO Meaghan Brunetti

This article was originally published in the April 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

Meaghan Brunetti of The Handmade Bride. Photo: Jessica Deeks

Meaghan Brunetti is the owner of The Handmade Bride, a quaint, welcoming bridal boutique in New Edinburgh that caters to women seeking something alternative for their big day. She got into the business because of her own frustrating experience of not being able to shop locally for atypical items for her wedding. While she was able to find most things on Etsy, she missed the tactile and social aspects of traditional shopping. She opened The Handmade Bride so that other women could find unique products. She specializes in assessing which dresses look best on different body types. She’s also an expert on alterations, which is why she doesn’t let brides get away with rejecting dresses before trying them on. Most dresses, she says, can be altered in ways that may not occur to clients. And though the shop carries only new dresses, albeit vintage-inspired, clients can bring in dresses they want to have altered. One bride approached her with a $30 dress from Value Village. Brunetti brought the skirt up over the bodice and altered the neckline, and the customer was thrilled with the result. Her top tip is to choose the dress first. “It’s easier to fit your wedding dress to a theme than the other way around,” she explains. “If you set a rigid theme first, it may not work with the dress you eventually fall in love with.” Falling in love with a dress, whether it’s a logical choice or not, is okay in Brunetti’s books. As she points out, “weddings are emotional, so there’s no need to be reasonable.” Most select a dress based on feeling rather than on thought. “When they put on a dress they like, they look happy, they act happy, they lighten up,” Brunetti adds.

A Story and Rose bouquet c/o Jennifer Moher


A Life Partnership

Photo c/o Mademoiselle Artsy

The Extras Brunetti sources from many local designers, including Gatineau artist Stéphanie Laliberté, a.k.a. Mademoiselle Artsy. Laliberté creates glamorous vintage-inspired jewellery and accessories, but her specialty is “brooch bouquets.” These breathtaking clusters of fabric, brooches, ribbons, lace, and mementoes special to the bride are perfect keepsakes. Boutonnieres are also available — in fact, Laliberté can provide everything that you would normally hire a florist for, such as paper and linen floral-inspired centrepieces.

The Venue A church might appeal to some traditionalists, but more than ever, people are thinking outside the box when it comes to choosing a location for their big day. Barns, backyards, hotels, and museums are no longer unusual locales for tying the knot. Stonefields Heritage Farm, a historic property in Carleton Place, and Evermore, the former home of Dr. James Naismith in Almonte, are two locations that provide a beautiful rustic backdrop. For those seeking a tropical ambience, Aquatopia is the perfect venue: it’s a newly opened greenhouse and water-garden conservatory that provides a lush backdrop throughout the year.

The Flowers After the dress and the venue, the decor should be next on the list. Flowers are a good place to start: the bouquet, boutonniere, and centrepieces can all be designed to suit your personal style. Brunetti recommends local florist Alysia McTague of Story & Rose, who sources flowers locally whenever possible and specializes in environmentally friendly arrangements free of foam and other artificial fillers. She generally meets with clients a year before the event to develop a look. “My idea of organic-looking might be very different than someone else’s,” she notes.

Photo c/o Kathi Robertson Weddings; dress: McCaffrey Haute Couture; hair: Erin Heather; makeup: Jill Currie; model Victoria, Angie’s Models (Aquatopia)

The Spend According to a 2014 study by Bank of Montreal, Canadians plan to spend an average of $15,000 on their wedding. Sound like a lot? Weddingbells Magazine gauges it as closer to $30,000. The BMO survey found that couples between the ages of 18 and 44 plan to spend the most, an average of $18,150. Those who are 65 or older will spend the least, just under $5,000.

The Gifts Dowries may be a thing of the past, and registries linked to a single store are on their way out, but gifts are still an integral part of the wedding experience. People are getting married later now, which means they’re often merging two households and already have everything they need. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things they want, especially big-ticket items like an extravagant honeymoon. Ottawa’s Wedding Republic offers a streamlined approach to the registry — people can use it to buy you that camping equipment you’ve always wanted or chip in on your honeymoon fund.


EXPERT EDIBLES from Essence Catering

What a send-off this’ll be! After all, you have the wedding of your dreams only once:

Essence Catering. Photo: Photolux Studio, Christian Lalonde

Braised beef short rib. With parsnip purée, leeks, oyster mushrooms, and syrah sauce

Roasted beet and pear in phyllo canapes. With goat cheese mousse

Dark chocolate pots de crème. With cocoa puffs truffle, whipped mascarpone, and port-stewed cherries

Essence Catering430 Parkdale Ave., 613-850-4776