The Toronto 2015 Pan-Am games have really shaken things up in the city this summer! Besides providing some memorable experiences, they’ve offered a unique and practical perspective when it comes to event planning. Here are 5 wedding planning tips from the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games that can be applied to your celebration.

From blogTO

Wedding Planning Tip 1: It’s All About the Venue

It was amazing to see the different sports and specialized tracks or stadiums required for each individual athletic event. Each event had their own specifications to ensure it was a good match for the sport that took place there.

With the wedding venue usually taking up a third or half of total wedding budgets, choosing an appropriate wedding venue for your needs is just as important.

What is your style, budget and guest count? This usually will be a starting point in determining what will work.

Do you need to have your culture’s cuisine represented in the menu? You will need to find a venue with a caterer or chef that accommodates this.

Do you dream of an outdoor ceremony? You will need to be shielded from the elements or there will need to be an indoor backup. What is the indoor backup plan? Can you picture yourself marrying there too?

Do you want to get married in the same venue as the reception? If yes, you will need to find a venue with two appropriate spaces or be satisfied with a room flip.

There are a lot of variables when it comes to choosing a venue (like choosing a spouse!), so take your time and make sure it is a good fit for your needs.

Just starting the venue search? Read our article on wedding planning first steps here.

Royal Conservatory of Music A Brit & A Blonde-106

Wedding Planning Tip 2: Good signage

We constantly rely on signage to help us get to where we need to go and the Pan-Am games were no exception to this.

Introducing something like the HOV lanes needed to be communicated across many mediums to ensure residents and visitors knew the new times and capacities of the lane. Even the TTC included additional maps to help get people on their way (and we all know the TTC is fairly stingey).

Wedding signage is equally important for your day and is a detail that can be easily overlooked when planning.

This is particularly true if your venue has a complicated layout or if there will be multiple sites for your guests to arrive at in one day. Don’t assume people know where they’re going, especially if any are from out of town or English is their second language!

Some ideas for wedding signage:

  • Create maps for your guests to make it from the hotel to the ceremony, and from the ceremony to the reception
  • Clearly label where parking is
  • If your event is on a large property like a campus, put down a lot of yard signs with large, bold text and arrows to indicate where parking is and where the ceremony or reception is taking place

And of course, have some fun with the signs too!

Wedding Planning Tip 3: Create a Memorable Selfie Spot

The most iconic part of the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games wasn’t necessarily the venues or the sports, but the same image that kept popping up in my newsfeed: the giant “TORONTO” sign at Nathan Phillips Square. It’s such a simple monument, but everyone wanted to be seen with it. It was the perfect selfie spot!

Consider having a unique element that would make an equally great selfie spot at your wedding.

It could be a fun centerpiece at each table, your names in a banner, some fun cutouts of yourselves or a dramatic head table backdrop. Original details will make a memorable wedding (and create great photo opps too!).

Marquee Lights

Wedding Planning Tip 4: Give Advance Notice

When it came to the HOV lanes, everyone was given clear warning far in advance about when enforcement would start and how commutes would be affected. This is why, during the debate of the lanes, while you had some people complaining, you had others saying, “Well, it’s not like nobody told you to prepare for this…”

For your wedding, ensure your guests don’t get stuck in a traffic jam they could have avoided. Give notice and provide important details in advance if possible.

If you are getting married downtown Toronto, make sure to notify guests of road closures and city events.

Remind guests of crucial information, as it’s likely been many months since they received your invitation and they may have forgotten the exact details of the day.

Make sure you know of their important information in advance too, such as food allergies.

Royal Conservatory of Music A Brit & A Blonde-4

Wedding Planning Tip 5: Hire Good Help

Sure, the biggest stars of the games are the athletes, but none of it would have been nearly as good without the help of the thousands involved – the 63,000 Toronto helpers and volunteers. Pan-Am staff behind the scenes and on location for each sport to ensure smooth operation at every venue. These people were the ones who breathed life into the games.

Likewise, a wedding celebration will be that much smoother with a great team behind you.

Your bridal party, experienced vendors and, of course, a day-of coordinator all play an important part in your day (so choose wisely!).

Choosing customer-service oriented professionals will ensure you create a memorable guest experience. They will have the experience to deal with issues that arise and handle them discreetly.

I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with an uncooperative photographer or DJ who ruins the couple’s day because they lacked experience and had a bad attitude.

If you’re overwhelmed, don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the time to plan the event of your dreams, consider hiring an experienced planner to help you. Working with a planner will take away much of the stress from coordinating the many facets of the wedding day, so you can enjoy your celebration.

Royal Conservatory of Music A Brit & A Blonde-126


See more of this whimsical wedding here.
Photos from the wonderful team at A Brit & A Blonde

About the author: Gloria is a summer intern with Rebecca Chan Weddings & Events, studying at Humber College’s Event Management program. She loves finding out about new trends, and seeing all the details of a wedding come together.

Rebecca Chan is a Toronto event designer and event planner. If you have a brand activation, media launch event, design project, trade show or a special event, connect with her today to see how we can collaborate on your next project.