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Vancity Vendor – La Gioia Events

September 23rd, 2011 by Jeannine

Vancity Vendor: La Gioia Events - Photo Courtesy Stanton Photography

Entertaining has always been a part of Maria Di Antonio’s life. Being Italian, she spent years helping her mom impress their guests with delicious dinners and a welcoming home. She decided to take that hospitality to a whole new level. She found her true calling in event planning. BCIT opened doors for her in the wedding industry and she eventually founded her company, La Gioia Events, in 2007. Pronounced “La Joy-ya,” her company name means joyfulness in Italian, which is what she feels whenever she helps brides plan their day.

Maria can be considered a “one-stop shop” for weddings… why? Because she offers:

  • Event planning and coordination
  • Floral Design
  • Linen & Decor Rentals
  • Invitations
  • Wedding Favors
  • Cakes, cupcakes and cookies

Maria offers Day-of Coordination packages at an hourly rate – $50/hr (minimum 4 consecutive hours). This means she will create the timeline for the wedding day and oversee the whole event. She also offers full planning services at 10% of the entire cost of your wedding (with a minimum fee of $2,000) where she will assist in everything to make your event uniquely yours. She plans with care and so much attention to detail, as if her customers were her own family, she says.

To customize your event, she also offers linen and decor rentals. Check her website for photos of what she has available for rent.  To Maria, inspiration comes from everywhere. In order to make sure her clients are 100% happy with her vision, she says she always creates a display to let them touch and feel her decor items. This gives them a better idea of what will be at the wedding.

Maria also bakes wedding cakes! Like any baker, her pricing varies depending on size, flavour, icing, and complexity of design. As an example, she says a 7″ round vanilla cake with buttercream icing can start at $20, while a fondant covered cake that would feed about 50-75 people would cost $125-150, which means $2-5 per person. Cupcake costs range from $1.25-3 per piece. Cookies are also available to order from $1-5 per piece, again depending on design. She says she caters to different dietary requirements and makes fake cakes for those who want the extravagance without the price.

Yes, she does flowers too if you can believe it. She’ll design the bouquet and arrangements to your expectations and add whatever embellishments you want. She says she loves to work with roses, calla lilies and orchids because of their elegance and delicate nature.

To keep up with Maria, you can check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter… who knows, maybe she’ll add another service eventually ;)

A Few Words With Maria…

How do you accommodate brides with lower budgets?
“Whatever discounts I may receive from my suppliers, they are always passed down to my clients.  I try to accommodate all budgets.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?
“What I enjoy most about my job is seeing all the smiles.  I love assisting people in creating beautiful memories and watching their dreams come true.  I love it when at the end of the night my Brides come and give me a big hug and tell me that their wedding was even more than what they dreamed it would be.  Which is why my logo is Turning dreams into reality…

How do you handle unforeseen problems on the wedding day? Can you give an example?
“Unforeseen problems can arise shortly before or on a wedding day.  I haven’t run into this often because I have everything organized well in advance. If they do, I resolve it or have solutions to it before presenting it to my clients, if I have too, without stressing them.  I’ve unfortunately have had vendors cancel their services at the last minute, but I have always found replacements.   An example is a cake order that the vendor cancelled two weeks before the wedding day and I helped complete the order.  Or a limo company who decided that a grad party was more lucrative than the wedding that was booked months in advance with a deposit.  Creating relationships with vendors in the industry is very important.  I feel very fortunate to know and work with many talented people.  Also having many of the resources in house has been very beneficial.”

You are pretty much a one-stop wedding shop, how do you handle it if you’re providing everything for one bride? How do you handle all that work?
“I don’t see it as work.  I love what I do and I’m very organized.  Being a one-stop shop assists my clients in saving time and money.  Booking with me saves my clients the time it takes to research and interview vendors and then negotiate fees.  Whatever savings my suppliers may provide is always passed on to my clients.  Of course I know my limits and know that one person can’t do it all by themselves, so working with great staff is a plus.”

Some people think wedding planning and coordination is an extra expense, what are your thoughts on that?
“Yes, I believe that hiring a wedding planner or coordinator is an extra expense, but it is so worth it.  Planning a wedding can be like a full time job (and in my case is).  If you have never planned a wedding or have had friends or family who have, there is so much to learn and not much time to do it all, especially with many venues that are booked a year in advance.  There are so many vendors in this great city of ours to research and interview.  Having someone who has contacts and has worked with vendors that they can trust to do the job, and do it right, can save on time and money.  You could also ask friends and family to assist, but why not enjoy that time with them instead?  If you do like organizing and know who you would like to assist you.  You’ve already booked your venue, flowers, officiant, cater and transportation… it is so worth having someone there to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  By hiring a coordinator, you can enjoy your day and create those special memories with your family and friends while someone else worries about all the behind the scenes action, so that you won’t have to worry about them.”

If you had to plan a wedding in 3 months, how would you tackle that? Any advice for brides in that situation?
“I’ve planned a few weddings where we’ve had only 3 or less months to plan.  I listen to my clients wants and needs and prioritize my tasks.  Once we have the venue, everything is smooth sailing from there.  Brides that are in that situation usually know what they want.  My advice is not to panic, everything is going to turn out beautifully!”

What is the easiest way to transform a room?
“If a bride can only afford to splurge on one major decor expense, I would suggest flowers.  Flowers bring life to a simple table.  You could have a centerpiece that could also be be your wedding favor.  This can be created by having multiple vases at the centerpiece or at each place setting, that guests can take home at the end of the evening.”

What flowers would you suggest for brides with lower budgets and why?
“Some flowers that I would suggest for lower budgets are Carnations, Roses and Lilies.  They are all long lasting flowers and depending on how they are arranged can look very rich.”

What was the most unique arrangement you’ve created for a wedding?
The most unique arrangement I created for a wedding was with purple cabbage, and curly willow tips.  The Bride and Groom’s colours were purple and green and they wanted an enchanted forest feel.”

If you had to make a bridal bouquet for $50, what flowers would it include?
“If I had to make a bridal bouquet for $50, I would use Roses and embellish them with gems and use satin ribbon to hand tie them.”

If you had one piece of advice for a bride and groom, what would it be?
“If I had one piece of advice for the bride and groom, it would be to focus on each other.  It’s not about the flowers that your Mom wants, the decor that your Mother-In-Law wants, the music that your friends want, or even the flavor of the cake.  It’s all about you, make it what you want. It’s about celebrating your union.  Your union is the real meaning behind everything.”

To contact Maria, visit her website.
Do you have what it takes to be a Vancity Vendor? Apply here.

Photos Courtesy Stanton’s Photography, Johann Wall, & Tanya K Photography
Mouse over photos to identify the photographer.
All other photos provided by La Gioia Events.

Vendor prices are subject to change. All prices quoted are accurate to the date published.

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