To kick off our newest feature; Wedding Wednesdays, I thought it would be fitting to interview Toronto’s premiere wedding and event planner, Melissa Andre.
I met Melissa through our mutual friend, Ainsley, and fell for her witty sense of humour and warm personality instantly. Over
a few too many afternoon cocktails I got to know a bit about her flourishing event business and knew she would be a great person to feature in our Creating The Life series because she truly has created a dream career for herself putting together some of the most exquisite weddings and events this city ANY city has ever seen. Not only is she extremely talented, this little lady works her butt off doing so many weddings that it’s a wonder she has any time for herself.
Needless to say, I was inspired…. Hope you are too!
Where did you grow up?
Born in Toronto. Grew up in the Annex.
What was your scholastic path? Uni/College/School of Hard Knocks?
You’re an event planner who specializes in weddings (and an amazing one at that!) did you always dream of this career? What was the path that got you here?
I actually started out in the event world specializing in fashion and cosmetics brands. I planned hundreds of events internationally for some amazing designers; one of my favourites was an amazing all-gold event for Dsquared2 that I worked on a few years ago during TIFF. When my friends started to get engaged and interview wedding planners they couldn’t find anyone who was coming up with amazing new ideas or who could produce parties that WE would actually want to go to. Since I was already planning events, I decided to take on two of my friend’s weddings. They were both published in magazines and I started getting calls from venues that had brides wanting to get in touch with me about designing their weddings. I sort of fell into it. My company still produces 500 events a year for corporate clients but weddings are such a special part of the business. They’re so personal and when the right brides find us, it’s pure magic.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been in business for about 5 years. I’m still unsure of the exact point where a few dozen wedding designs for brides who couldn’t find the right planner turned into our full time business with hundreds of happy brides a year!
What is the best part about event planning?
An event is the ultimate in contemporary style. It all goes away at the end of the party so you can take bigger risks and be super creative. I love how quickly everything can change at an event. I once produced a party where we had mini pieces of cake inside of balloons. Guests had to pop their balloon in order to eat their dessert. I had about 4 backup plans in place for that party. Guests ended up loving it but we could have served a completely different dessert that night and no one would have known it wasn’t plan A.
Last summer, I had a venue phone me 3 hours before a wedding and let me know that due to a construction disaster the wedding could no longer take place. I flipped the whole party to the rooftop, brought in this amazing white cabanas and floated chandeliers in each of them. We re-designed the menu to suit the new space. I actually think the Plan B ended up being better than the Plan A.
And the worst?
It’s so difficult for clients to see what I see. I once designed this pond in the middle of a wedding with floating lily pads with tiny little desserts on them. It was such a spectacular piece but the client was so sure that it wouldn’t work for her wedding. After hours and hours of conversations ending in “just trust me” she agreed. She was thrilled on the day but it almost didn’t happen.
It’s so important to hire a planner and event designer that you trust and know that everything is going to be even more amazing than you could have ever dreamed.
A lot of clients are scared to step outside the box but that is what makes events memorable. Everyone has been to a million parties where they float strawberries in the champagne. Why not replace the fruit garnish with a cloud of cotton candy? I feel like sugar fixes everything.
You’ve put together some incredible weddings with everything from trapeze artists to custom perfume bars, tell us, what was your favourite event that you’ve organized to date?
I planned this amazing wedding this past December for one of my absolutely favourite couples to date: Melissa + Dylan (she has a great name, doesn’t she?) They had 100 people at Sandy Lane in Barbados. I passed champagne and lemon popsicles on the beach after they were pronounced husband and wife. We had custom mini bottles of Moet, monogrammed napkin and even the cake shipped down to the island. At midnight hundreds of pink heart shaped sky lanterns filled the sky. It was super gorgeous.
Is there a misconception about your field that can get annoying?
Dozens of people tell me how much they loved planning their own wedding and how they’d love to be wedding planners professionally.
I believe that one of the reasons that I’m so busy is that I’m designing and producing events and ideas that no one has ever seen before — I don’t know that enjoying the wedding planning process qualifies someone to charge a service that the client could easily replicate themselves. I always try to go above and beyond the client’s expectations and that involves a lot of time, creativity, and constantly thinking about how to turn an event element or detail into something totally amazing.
Also, planning a wedding for yourself is not at all the same as planning a wedding for someone else! I much prefer to plan for other people.
What advice would you give up and coming people in your field?
When you think you’ve come up with the best idea for an event, keep thinking and make it 10x better.
What would be your dream gig?
Prince Harry’s wedding? A Chanel Runway Show + after party? I feel like Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick would want to throw a great party for their wedding. I’d also love to write a book about entertaining like a professional.
See more from Melissa Andre HERE