Getting ready to wed

I’m still a little stunned that it’s over. 8 months of planning for five beautiful, magical hours. Our wedding was everything I dreamed of and more!

The day started off early. I woke up at 6am (this never happens) and ping! I was awake. I was glad, actually, since it gave me a few hours to shower and relax so by the time 10am came and my Mom and step-Dad came to pick me up for our salon appointment, I was calm and ready.

My up-do took over an hour to complete, but it was worth it. It was comfortable to wear and I felt positively regal.

Then, my make up. I really didn’t have to say much and he did an amazing job. I’m SO glad I had trials with both of them beforehand. Not only to discuss what “look” I wanted, but because we were just more comfortable with each other. I can highly recommend Clover Salon, Vancouver’s only “green” salon.

It was so much fun going to the salon with my Mom. We never did/do things like this- she’s a very ‘au naturel’ kind of lady. But I had convinced her that she should get her hair and make up done, and she looked fantastic! She knew it too- she couldn’t stop beaming.

My brother (and my Best Man) and his wife (also a Bridesmaid) joined us a bit later, since I had encouraged her to get her hair done too. I thought that such long locks would look fabulous in waterfall braids… and I was right!

After we were all dolled up, we grabbed lunch, picked up our floral order (bouts and corsages) and headed over to the hotel that my family was staying at to get ready. My other two bridesmaids met us there and the excitement kept building. They finished their hair and make up while I completed the ribbon wrap on my hand tied bouquet.

I took the opportunity to give my Mom her gift: a monogrammed “Mom” handkerchief.

Then she gave me my gift from my wife-to-be… this is me trying not to cry as I read her sentimental card.

Finally it was time for my dress!

We sure had fun getting me into it…

I wanted to do a “first look” with my Dad, to catch his reaction of seeing his little girl in a wedding gown for the first time. Then I gave him his gift, a photo pin from my high school graduation day for his bout.

Finally, it was time to head to the gardens for our formal portraits. My friend hadn’t cleaned out her car, and I laughed as I got in with all the garbage and clutter. “Sorry!” she apologized, “I didn’t know I was transporting the princess today!”

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Making “practical” your wedding theme

I think most of us start with the best intentions to be sensible in our wedding planning. Not many of us have an unlimited budget or sugar daddy, so us practical brides-to-be set the budget, make the spreadsheets, tackle the DIY challenges, and search for the best deals on everything.

Despite these goals, it can be surprisingly easy to get carried away by that nasty creature: desire. 21st century brides have it bad. We are overwhelmed by images of other people’s weddings online and in magazines, so we naturally begin to compare our future wedding to theirs. Some days, it may feel like you will never live up to your own expectations! But trust me, it’s not the burlap or bird cages or patio lighting that will make your wedding special (although they can all, admittedly, make your wedding LOOK awesome), not the “perfect” dress, or chivari chairs or the most expensive flowers, but the incredible love between the newlyweds and their family and friends.

I am glad that I discovered some excellent, down-to-earth websites and blogs early enough in my planning to keep me grounded. I’m talking about offbeatbride, apracticalwedding, intimateweddings, and even weddingbee. Sure, I looked through all the wedding dress images and used the timeline feature on theknot, but the advice on there seems to be for women who are nothing like me. And stylemepretty? Oh please.

In the last few weeks I am proud to say that I have made some practical decisions that left me feeling liberated! With little more than two months to go, I am finding that I can more easily discern what is important, and what is not. Confirming your numbers and catering order with your venue/banquet manager? Important. Having your bridesmaids’ dresses match the table overlays? Not so much.

Speaking of bridesmaids dresses, that was one area where practicality was paramount. I knew early on that I wanted them in different dresses, one that they chose that flattered their body. My partner and I eventually settled on coordinated mismatched, asking them to get a dress in shades of purple. We went shopping together one weekend, and couldn’t believe the prices! What started out as a reconnaissance trip to look at styles and see what was out there, ended up being a reality check.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve worn second-hand clothes all my life. I still buy new sometimes, but I have no issue with consignment and thrift stores. So I suggested that my ‘maids go that route, and continue looking on their own free time. Within 10 days they had both found dresses: one for $32 (silk chiffon!) and one at $7!!! My third bridesmaid, my sister-in-law, already owns some great dresses in purple so I think she’s set. Hooray!

Next was shoes. I had started a pinterest board of some possibilities for my feet. I discovered that Sears (a big department store in Canada) carried a lot of the brands I had been looking at. I immediately fell in love with one of them (really comfy Clark’s- strappy 2.5 inch heels), but they only carried them in brown or black. If I wanted the white, I would have to order through their website (meaning I wouldn’t get the 30% off sale that day).

To be clear, I don’t wear white really, ever. So why I was even humming and hawing over this seems silly now. I walked around Sears, considering the implications of not wearing white shoes. Huh? I finally got over myself, after talking to my sweetie, when I realized that if I bought the white pair I would probably never wear them again after the wedding. And for the good money I was about to spend, I wanted to continue to enjoy them. So I bought beige. Scandalous, I know.

Another area that my fiancée and I are trying to be really practical is decor. We naively under-budgeted for this initially, and had to eventually accept that we were going to spend more than we first intended. I’m planning to offset this extra expenditure after the wedding by selling as much as I can through craigslist. This fits with my “green” wedding M.O. that everything we use must be already second-hand, recyclable, biodegradable or edible, and/or have a life and purpose post-wedding. If that purpose brings some money back my way by another bride-to-be, all the better.

Now, let’s talk briefly about money. Oooohhh, such a touchy subject, I know. And certainly one in which to value practicality! Be very clear with yourselves and each other what you are willing to save, spend and go into debt over for your wedding. Early on, discuss with your parents (both sides) to determine whether they are willing and able to contribute anything. That way you know what kind of budget you have to work with before you book any vendors. Budget high, and try to come in under. Know that things will change (usually going up, unfortunately!).

Make lists: what is absolutely important to have, what would be nice to have, and what you are ambiguous about having and could let go. Don’t waste any energy and time on things that you don’t care about, even if every wedding you’ve been to had a, b, or c, or your Moms think you really need an x, y, or z. If anything feels like it’s more trouble (or money) than it’s worth, it probably is. Axe it- without guilt. At the end of the day when you aren’t starting your marriage in a ton of debt (whether you are actually carrying it, or it’s emotional debt for one of your parent’s carrying it) you will be glad that you didn’t waste the extra money on things you could care less about!

Ultimately, I feel that 21st century brides have more choices- and this can be negative and positive. It’s negative when, like I described above, we get sucked into thinking we “need” things for our wedding that we DON’T. (off the top of my head: air-brush make up, white limos, $150 bridal bouquet, dove release…)

But it’s a positive when we realize that we have more choices than ever before: meaning almost NOTHING is “required” anymore unless YOU want it. Don’t want to wear a white dress? Cool! Rather have burgers and beer and a backyard wedding? Awesome! Want to save your money for an extended honeymoon? Opt for a small courthouse ceremony and dinner at a fancy restaurant. Lovely.

So think outside the box! You can be imaginative and practical at the same time- in fact, it’s required. Tell me, what practical wedding decisions have YOU made?

Co-ordinated mismatched saves the day

Choosing our wedding colours was not a simple decision that we made early on and never changed our minds. Before I got engaged I didn’t even know you had to choose wedding colours! And I had never heard about weddings having themes. Maybe I’ve only been to traditional weddings. Or I didn’t notice.

We have changed our colours quite a few times. Our first choice, Mango Orange and Aqua Blue, was the result of us trying to play up the “beach” theme. Our venue is a big ferry boat docked on the ocean, but we are not on a beach. A girl can dream, no?

After I was informed by one of my bridesmaids that she refuses to wear blue, we switched to Persimmon and Plum. That’s wedding-speak for orange and purple. It was less “beachy” and more “tropical” and I thought I could live with that. I was having a hard time letting go of the aqua blue however, because we had already started down the path of the seashell theme in some of our decor DIY, and it seemed an obvious match.

Now, I’m happy to say that we have made our final decision on our colours AND our theme, thanks to weddingnouveau.com

‘Enchanted Summer Evening’ in Blue, Green, Purple and Pink.

We chose to get married on August 1st since it’s the midsummer full moon; an auspicious and magical night to celebrate our love. These colours fit perfectly with our desire to have an earthy, whimsical aesthetic with our decor, since we are creating a Celtic-inspired ceremony with our Reverend. Also, the seashell decor won’t be entirely out of place since we are, as I mentioned, right on the ocean.

One of the most stressful parts of planning this wedding has been deciding the wedding party attire! When you are too definitive (THIS exact dress, in THIS exact colour) you come off as controlling, bossy, and (gasp!) a bridezilla. When you’re too sensitive to everyone’s feelings and try to please everybody, you usually end up not pleasing yourself.

At last we have discovered our saving grace. Co-ordinated mismatched! I think it’s a new trend, and for good reason.

We’ve decided to take ONE of our colours, purple, and have them in varying shades. Once my girls decide on their dresses, then my fiancée will match the shades for the ties on her butch-maids. So she gets her colour-coordination (with variety) and my bridesmaids get more freedom in choosing the dresses. Happy Happy. This is one wedding trend that I hope is here to stay.

Here’s some of our inspiration pics.

If you want to see more examples of coordinated mismatched wedding parties, and even some completely mismatched, I started a dedicated Pinterest board on the subject. Check it out.

Beach wedding colours

So I’ve been seeing that my blog gets a lot of hits from people looking for beach wedding colour schemes, so I thought I’d elaborate on the subject. Not that I am an expert, by any means!

When you are getting married by the sea, blue seems an obvious choice. Alas, there are many variations on the hue of blue, so it can be hard to colour-coordinate. Marine blue? Teal or turquoise? Pool blue, aka Tiffany blue?

Early on, I came across a fabulous blog dedicated to wedding colours called The Perfect Palette. There, I found an inspiration board that, well, inspired me! I showed it to my fiancée, who loved the colours too! I thought the decision was made and I’d never had to re-consider the matter again. However, I was wrong. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The colour combo that initially excited me so much was aqua blue, orange and ivory. It was, in my mind, a “perfect palette” for a beach wedding, giving a bright, fun, summery feel- like we could pretend we were somewhere tropical. She suitably named this palette, ‘Island Wedding’.

I loved these colours so much, I thought my bridesmaids would too! I thought they would feel the same inner joy that I did, looking upon that Caribbean blue paired with mango orange. My bubble burst when my one BM curtly told me that she doesn’t wear blue. !?! She loved the orange dresses, however I was envisioning the orange only in the flowers and some decor. You know, as an accent colour. (sigh)

I didn’t know what to do, so I eventually evolved my colour scheme. I found another close relative, a cute alliterative couple in teal and tangerine.

Do you see the problem? Teal, turquoise, aqua blue… are all pretty much the same colour. So unless I went all the way to jade, I was still left with a bridesmaid who did not want to wear my chosen colour. What to do? It was, somewhat literally, back to the drawing board.

My fiancée loves purple. Plain and simple. Anything violet, plum, berry, merlot, she loves it. So it made sense that purple made its way into our discussion. Orange was being persistent, so one day we had a long talk and decided to scrap the aqua blue/teal dilemma altogether and go with purple and orange- like a Florida sunset. And we were still able to have fun with alliteration, as I now accepted that our wedding colours were persimmon and plum. (somehow, it makes it more wedding appropriate with cutesy colour names, doncha think? :))

Soon after, however, I got worried that it was more of an autumn wedding colour scheme, and didn’t really go with my original beachy theme. So, I tried to bargain teal’s way back in, maybe in the organza table overlays, perhaps? Or in other decor elements? The wedding party can be in persimmon (dark orange) and plum (purple) but turquoise could highlight the venue?

At this point I am considering purple, orange, teal, gold and ivory. How many colours are too many? What if my BMs don’t wear the same colour? What colour should we choose for the butch-maid vests, and what colour pants?? So many questions, and so many little details to stress over- if you let yourself. Picking a wedding colour scheme can easily become overwhelming.

Eventually, both my fiancee and I had to take a step back and realize that we were going to a lot of trouble because ONE person didn’t want to wear a teal dress. Why was it such a big deal to us anyway? Isn’t it more important that our friends are happy to support us in this role, considering the money and time they will generously spend to be a part of our wedding? As I’ve written about before, I want to keep my friendships intact post-wedding.

I realized that I truly wanted my ‘maids to love the dress enough to wear it again. So recently I asked them to make a choice out of three colours: persimmon, plum, or teal. One chose persimmon (no surprise there!) and the other chose plum. Decision made. My partner’s butch-maids will wear plum- pattern vests with orange flower bouts, and tan pants. And I still may get those aqua blue organza overlays…

There’s no moral to this story, it’s just my story. My adventure in wedding colours! But since you’ve read this far, I’ll reward you with a few more lovely beach wedding colour schemes; inspiration boards again courtesy of The Perfect Palette.

For those who want to keep it simple, and inspired by the Ocean and Sand: (or Turquoise and Taupe 😉

If you wanna add some warm tones to the palette, try Coral, Aqua and Berry:

For those who want to go all-out with the Nautical theme, Navy and White:

For brides who like BOLD colours, Teal and Fuschia:

If you wanna see more pretty colours, I’ve started a Pinterest board of my favourite combinations.

Have you picked your wedding colour scheme yet? Was it easy, and you never thought about it again? Or did you change your minds a few times?

Does losing a bridesmaid mean losing a friend?

Sorry for having two emotional blog posts back to back, but it’s been that kind of week. We have recently started our first DIY project and it’s coming along nicely- I will be sharing that soon.

It’s been four days since one of my closest friends told me, by text, that she was dropping out of my wedding party. While it’s often sad to ‘lose’ a bridesmaid, what is really sad in this situation was the way she chose to step down. In a few quick texts she managed to criticize my wedding, confuse me and hurt my feelings- putting a wedge in our friendship that I don’t know how to move past. I felt like a vulnerable little girl.

Ultimately, in further communication through email (that’s right, she never actually called me, even though I left her a voice mail) I have come to realize that it is HER issues with weddings and not MY choices that made her decide. Initially however, she made it out like my wedding wasn’t going to be her kind of wedding (I’m still wondering what that kind is), like it wasn’t going to be cool enough to warrant the money and time and travel she would have to put out to be involved.

She even brought up my ex, comparing the ‘new’ me to the ‘old’ me, and wondered aloud why we weren’t having an alternative ceremony, since traditional weddings are for straight people only, I guess. She hadn’t bothered to return my phone calls for the past month, respond to my emails to connect over chat, nor visit our wedding website or she would have known that we are, in fact, planning a Celtic ceremony that will likely involve a handfasting. But why would that matter to a good friend anyway?

I never asked her to do any special duties other than coming down a few days early for my stagette party, and attend the wedding in whatever style dress she wanted, in our chosen colour. I even offered to pay for half her travel expenses. It’s not like I wanted them in ugly dresses like these!

Needless to say, I’m still hurt by her words and actions, and it’s left me feeling insecure about the wedding plans, and doubtful about our friendship. I hope that soon enough I will get over this and planning will be fun again. It is hard not to have an edge of defensiveness after being attacked like this, like “I’ll show you how cool my wedding will be!”

My fiancee and I are not even sure we want her to attend as a guest now. It is easier to forgive than to forget. After showing how thoughtless and judgmental she can be, why would I want her there? I don’t want to feel insecure at my own wedding!

How would you feel if something like this happened to you? If it has, how have you handled it?

Bridesmaids!

Last night my fiancée and I (hmmm… still getting used to that, I like how it sounds!) had our bridesmaids over to hang, chat a little about the wedding, and watch Bridesmaids!

Before we started the flick, I got to play a little practical joke on my BMs. I had picked out four of the ugliest bridesmaids dresses I could find and saved the pics in a file on my computer. Since I’m a good actor, they completely believed me as I showed them the possible dresses, even pretending to be a little hurt when one of them exclaimed “Absolutely no way am I wearing a dress like that!”

I had them going for a few minutes, until I finally told them I was just kidding. We all had a good laugh, and they were very relieved.

Everyone loved our choice of colour scheme, and very happy with our decision to have them wear black. My girls will wear black dresses and I’ll add colour with shawls and their flower bouquets, and my partner’s “butch-maids” will wear black vests and dress pants, white short-sleeved shirts, coloured ties to match the shawls, and flower boutonnieres. I think it will look really sharp.

Half of them had already seen the movie, but they all wanted to see it again. We had a riot, laughing so hard. I particularly loved the character of Megan, the chubby, straight-shooting future sister-in-law.

We assured our gals that we didn’t want to go to Vegas for our bachelorette, or have puppies given out as favours (even with pink berets), and please, don’t surprise us with Wilson Phillips on our wedding day. LOL!

Even though the movie was a silly comedy, it did get me thinking about friendships. I definitely do not want the planning of my wedding to create any wedges between my friends and I. Similar to the movie plot, some of my ‘maids are single and not in as rosy a place as I am. It’s tough when I want to share my joy and all my plans and ideas, but then I hold back because I don’t want to be insensitive. It just feels rude to show off how happy I am.

As well, I am going to do my best to not demand too much of their time, and to always be grateful for their help and emotional support. I think that done right, this experience can bring you and your bridesmaids closer together, and in my case I hope that we are even better friends after the wedding is over!

Has anyone had any negative experiences with their Bridesmaids? How about really positive ones? What are you doing to ensure your friendship survives the wedding?