Four Nights in Toronto for the Canadian Special Event Awards

By Sarah Gray

Celebrating the 2023 Canadian Special Event Awards

This past week, two of our Lead Planners (Anouk and Emma) headed to Toronto Ontario for the 2023 Canadian Special Event Awards. Anouk and Emma were finalists in two of the three Best Wedding Planning categories and we were all so excited for them to go to Toronto to celebrate at the gala as well as Canadian Special Event (CSE) Live. We got the scoop on the trip from the girls themselves so read on to find out all about their trip and what they are excited about next!

 

What are the Canadian Special Event Awards? Tell us more!

Emma: The Canadian Special Event Awards are a yearly Canada wide gala celebrating the best in Canadian Event Professionals from coast to coast! This was the CSE Award’s 26th year of celebrating and the first in-person event since 2019. The yearly gala is paired with a multi-day conference – CSE Live – that includes expert speakers and panel talks. As well as an awesome trade show highlighting tons of new and upcoming trends, and provides the opportunity to meet and network with other event planners and industry professionals from across the country.

This was also our first year attending the conference in person! Back in 2020, we were finalists for a stunning 2019 lakeside wedding. However, we didn’t get to travel to Toronto due to Covid. We did celebrate regardless (of course!) and participated in the Virtual Awards show from afar by hosting a Victoria viewing party which we affectionaltely dubbed “The Parking Lot Gala.”

 

The 2020 CSE West Coast Viewing Party aka “The Parking Lot Gala” with Toque Catering
Belle White Creative Photography

 

You two were both nominated! That is so exciting! Which weddings were you nominated for and how did you do?

Emma: Eeek – Yes! This was a pretty big deal for Anouk and I! The nominations speak volumes to the entire Good Party team and the two BC-based vendors that we had not one, but two weddings chosen as finalists.

Anouk was the Lead Planner on a multi-day logistically complex and design focused Indian-Persian fusion wedding celebration that took place in July of 2022. This wedding was included in the Best Wedding Planning 100-250k category. The event itself took place at three venues: The Fairmont Empress, The Fort Common, and Ships Point. The entire weekend was incredible and was exceptionally planned, designed, and produced by Anouk. We’ll definitly be giving it a blog feature soon!

 

Element Photo Co.

 

The wedding that was included in the Best Wedding Planning under 100k category was one of my favorite weddings ever. After Covid throwing several wrenches in my couple’s wedding plans, they decided on an intimate backyard gathering. The oceanside celebration was unique because we custom designed and built out a restaurant in the clients’ backyard. Every aspect of the day was centred around their favorite restaurant (and original wedding venue) New York City’s ‘Eleven Madison Park’.

 

Myrtle and Moss Photography

 

We did not win either category but both of us truly felt that the experience and opportunity to be included on a list that features an incredibly talented group made up of Canada’s top Wedding Planners was such an honour. Plus, there’s always next year!

 

The Good Party wasn’t the only Victoria based wedding vendor nominated for an award this year! Tell us more about the Bespoke Blossoms nomination!

Anouk: I’d love to! Annise and her team wanted to do something to help support the people of Ukraine and came up with the idea to design a community floral installation using the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The Rally for Ukraine project helped raise funds and bring people together. The team donated hundreds of flowers and asked community members to give a donation of whatever they could to place a flower on the wall. The end result consisted of a beautiful yellow and blue floral flag and together with the community, Bespoke raised over $4000 for relief effort. You can read all about the installation on the Bespoke Blossom’s Blog!

Annise deservingly took home the award for Most Creative Floral Design and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her and her team!

 

Myrtle and Moss Photography

 

We’d love to know more about the conference itself, any big takeaways or refreshing reminders?

Emma: Spending two days listening to presenters and panels focused on the many aspects of the event industry was awesome. We enjoyed sessions on everything from Experiential Event Design and Sustainability in Events to Risk Management and Event Contract Development led by some of our colleagues from across Canada.

I found the whole conference to be a refreshing reminder that we on Vancouver Island are just a tiny piece of the event professionals map across Canada. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world out there outside of weddings and corporate celebrations and it was incredible to hear from Destination Management Companies, Festival Organizers, Event Security Teams, Live Music and Entertainment Organizers, etc. We are excited to build on the ideas that were shared as we continue to push the boundaries of same-old, same-old here on Vancouver Island!

 

 

EventFEST sounds awesome, what was the trade show portion all about?

Emma: EventFEST was the trade show portion of CSE Live and it was honestly so much fun! Anouk and I spent a solid three hours on the trade show floor chatting with vendors and suppliers from across the country, eating so much good food, and checking out some of the latest and greatest in event entertainment, catering, bar and beverage services, decor, and so much more! 

Some highlights included,

  • A High Bar – literally! HIGH BAR EVENTS AND HOSPITALITY offers cocktail infusion bars, vape stations, roll favours, etc. and the best news? They travel. We can’t wait to have their team at an event here on Vancouver Island soon!
  • ShimmerTech – We were already on the ShimmerTech bandwagon (we have a beautiful gold ShimmerTech backdrop available for rent!) but meeting the team in person was awesome. We love their products and guarantee you’ll see some more fun ShimmerTech backdrops at future TGP events.
  • Connecting with the team from Chair-man Mills! Chair-man Mills is an Ontario based corporation that focuses on rentals; however they have firms and partners across Canada that include our friends in Vancouver, A&B Partytime Rentals and Loungeworks. It was great connecting in person and seeing some of the beautiful new rentals they are bringing in!

A few other amazing highlights: a mobile craft brewery tap truck, an outdoor modular ice skating rink, corporate Canine Therapy, and virtual gaming options (everything from chill zen meditations to knee buckling rollercoasters!).

 

 

Four nights in Toronto! What else did you two get up to?

Anouk: We ate!!! But really, we did. We both enjoy great cocktails and delicious food and with some great advice from a friend who loves Toronto, we hit up some of the city’s top restaurants.

Here’s the must try list for your next trip to the Big City:

Buca Yorkville – a classy restaurant with an Italian fusion flair.
You have to try the burrata on squid ink focaccia and seriously don’t leave without ordering the creamy pistachio gelato for dessert.

BarChef – an intimate cocktail bar that focuses on serving creative cocktails with a culinary twist. Their Modernist Series cocktails were an unforgettable experience and I highly recommend ordering the Spring Thaw cocktail.

Bar Raval – a Spanish standing room only pinxtos bar with unique Gaudi-esque decor. Grab your friends and share some great tapas such as the scallops or sweetbread.

AloBar – a sleek bistro serving delicious cocktails and dishes fusing European and Asian influences. The French Derby cocktail is oh so smooth and a definite must!

Bar Isabel – a cozy Spanish style eatery in Toronto’s Little Italy with shareable tapa style dishes. You won’t regret allowing the Chefs to cook their favorites for you by opting for the tasting menu.

 

 

We love this so much!! Other than the conference and all that good food, did you have time for anything else?

Emma: Yoga of course! Anouk and I both love yoga and actually picked our AirBnB for it’s proximity to two Oxygen Hot Yoga studios. It made for a few early mornings, but there seriously is nothing better.

We also spent a few hours downtown checking out Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market and fit in a little bit of shopping too!

 

This all sounds like such a good time! We love that you two, along with the Bespoke Blossoms team, were able to make the trip to Toronto. Not only did you get to enjoy some time away but most importantly you got to celebrate your hard work on those two beautiful weddings. The Canadian Special Event Awards takes place every year and we can’t wait to see what our team comes up with for the 2024 edition!