It was one of those weddings. The type that appears in your Facebook news feed and you click on seconds later, unable to complete any further tasks until you have gazed upon each and every picture. Blue Manolo Blahniks, check. Aerial performers, check. The most insane chuppah you’ve ever seen, check. This was my friend Michelle Garber’s wedding, which I knew was going to be major as soon as I saw her twirling around in Pnina Tornai gowns on Say Yes to the Dress. Yes, I’m talking about that Michelle. She also happens to be the sweetest, most down-to-earth girl you could ever hope to grab coffee with, and has been since I first met her during my sorority days (hi Delta Pi!) When I learned she had become a wedding planner, I wasn’t surprised. It seemed like a natural progression after pulling off one of the most epic weddings of all time.
Just over a year later, she is the owner and principal planner of Fab Fête, a wedding planning boutique that already has Toronto brides babbling. With a coveted 5-star rating on WeddingWire, 50% of Fab Fête’s clients come from referrals. It’s easy to understand why. In an industry long over-populated by mason jars and mismatched centerpieces, Fab Fête offers an unapologetic glamour puss approach to wedding production. Her work speaks for itself: with details such as donut machines, shoe-shiners, photo decals and dangling crystal ice sculptures, Michelle’s specialty is undeniably statement events. She produces the same types of soirees you’d expect from Toronto’s most seasoned wedding professionals, sans the attitude that often tags along (and I spent my childhood in the Midwest, so I care way more about manners than most people. In fact, I have literally refused to write about vendors with icky personalities, no matter how outstanding their work is). Fortunately, in Michelle’s case, her work is just as wonderful as her personality.
“I’m newer in the industry, so I have that drive to exceed expectations,” says Michelle. While she may be a newcomer to the wedding scene, she’s no stranger to event planning. After earning a business degree from York University, Michelle continued her education at George Brown College, where she received a post-graduate diploma in Event Planning. She is also a certified wedding professional through WPIC (Wedding Planners Institute of Canada) and produced several non-profit events before her foray into weddings.
Some of her favourite Toronto wedding venues include the Trump Hotel, Arcadian Court and Hazelton Manor, where Michelle celebrated her own Big Day. Her immediate transition from bride to planner has provided some valuable insight: “I spent a lot of money on things that I didn’t need. I thought they would make a bigger impression than they actually did,” she explains. While Michelle has a discerning eye for detail (“I really love the small things,” she gushes), she also guides brides to getting the most bang for their buck throughout the entire wedding planning process. With extremely reasonable rates (starting at $950 for day of coordination), Michelle manages each wedding from start to finish, with no overtime charges or unpleasant surprises.
“I always put brides ahead,” says Michelle, who has built friendships with each of her brides, and unsurprisingly so. After all, Michelle is not only a committed professional but wedding guru in her own right and really, just extremely nice (even by Midwestern standards). She’s also met Randy Fenoli (“He is so cute, exactly like he is on TV.”) Need I say more?
1. Diamonds or pearls?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
2. Black tie or bow tie?
3. DJ or live band?
Depends on the style of the wedding. Either one is great!
4. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done/seen/heard at a wedding?
I recently helped plan a wedding where the bride did a “Backstreet’s Back” dance with her dad. It was the exact dance from the music video and it was a hit. So creative!
5. What wedding trend do you think it’s time to shelve?
Well it’s not really a trend but I think that people need to stop thinking that there is only one way of doing something. There is no right way of doing a wedding. Breaking a few traditions and adding some new ones work! The couple needs to make the wedding theirs’ and not worry about what others think.
6. Brides should spend less on the _____ and more on the _____.
Spend less on the tiny details that will not be remembered and more on the larger details that will be seen and experienced by everyone. Try to spend money on one big ticket memorable item like a late night gelato bar in ice or a food truck. Make your wedding stand out from the crowd!
7.Favourite celebrity wedding
I LOVED Carrie Underwood’s wedding. I thought it looked like a whimsical enchanted forest yet so princess like. I thought it was breathtaking.
8. If you could bring any person, living or dead, as your plus one to a wedding, who would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a toughie. I think I would bring Michael Jackson. I know it sounds so cliché but I think he would be such a fun guest and I would persuade him to get up on stage and get the crowd going. It would not only enhance my time at the wedding but it would be a ball for the guests and couple as well!
9. Dream wedding venue to work with
I would LOVE to plan a wedding at the Plaza hotel in NYC. Everytime I go into the ballroom I get shivers and I could just do so much to enhance the elegance of that venue. It is breathtaking
10.Favourite blog/s aside from Wedding Style File!
Preston Bailey’s blog
11. Words you live by
“Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life.” –Confucius
In a Nut Shell: Big-style events with a boutique approach
Pricing (Approximate): Day of Coordination, $950-1250
Full Event Planning, $1950-2400
Piece of Advice: Don’t skip the traditional speech. “Your guests came to the wedding and need to be thanked,” says Michelle.
For more information, check out Fab Fête at www.fabfete.ca.