Whistler honeymoon

Even if you are on a budget- do not skip the honeymoon! Trust me, you will both want to get away after all the hype and stress of the wedding. I admire couples who are able to take an extended vacation; we unfortunately did not have the luxury of that much time off work (in total we took 10 days off for our “wedding week” and our honeymoon). So we chose to stay local and enjoy the world-class resort two hours from Vancouver- Whistler!

This was my sweetie’s area to arrange, since I was organizing most of the wedding. I’m so glad I delegated that task to her, many months before. All I knew was where we were going (and I’d strongly dropped hints for a spa experience), everything else she planned was a surprise!

We got to travel in style in our new Jeep Patriot (well, new to us, it’s a 2008) that was a gift from my Aunt in exchange for my old Toyota going to my 16-year-old cousin. Yes, they won the prize for largest wedding gift!

We stayed at the Marketplace Lodge, which provides furnished suites right in the Village. Excellent location- we could walk and bike everywhere, and great prices (we got our third night free!). To save money we brought some groceries with us to cook our own meals, but we did enjoy one fancy dinner out and breakfast on the morning we left.

Our first day was all action, as we started the day with a bike ride around Alta Lake, and then in the afternoon went on a trek with The Adventure Group. We did the Zoom Lines- four really fast zip lines. It was so much fun!

Since it was the August long weekend (BC Civic Holiday) there were free concerts every night in the Olympic Plaza. Saturday night we got to see Spirit of the West!

We spent Sunday relaxing- first swimming and sunning at Alta Lake, and then spending the afternoon at Scandinave Spa. This experience was like no other, Scandinave is so amazingly beautiful and peaceful. After our hour-long, Swedish couples massage, we enjoyed two hours in the hot pools, eucalyptus steam room, Finnish dry sauna, and the hammocks. I hope you’re getting the idea here. A one-of-a-kind experience and decent prices- highly recommended!

Basically, on our honeymoon we caught up on our three favourite things that we had been missing due to all the stress leading up to the wedding: sleeping, eating, and sex. It. Was. Wonderful. (see how relaxed and happy we look? Lol!)

The other great thing about staying local and just going away for a long weekend was that it cost us a fraction of the standard honeymoon price. But hey, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly wish we’d spent two weeks in Tahiti in an overwater bungalow…

Where did you go, or are you planning to go, for your honeymoon?

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We’ve been blogged!

After so many months of planning, stressing, and crafting a wedding, it flies by in a matter of hours. So it’s satisfying when after the fact, prominent wedding sites and bloggers feature your special day!

I’m thrilled that Offbeat Bride, Vancity Bride, AND A Bicycle Built for Two have featured our wedding!!

Check it out: offbeatbride.com/vancouver-fairytale-wedding

onabicyclebuiltfortwo.com/wedding

vancitybride.com/real-vancity-brides

It’s such a pleasure and sweet validation that we did something worth sharing with the world wide web!

Newlywed musings
Two and a half months have passed; the thank you cards have all been sent, the photo slideshow emailed to all our guests, the photo books created and delivered to our parents and grandparents, and our personal wedding scrapbook is almost finished. As the “honeymoon phase” lingers, memories of our wedding day still bring smiles to our faces and warm feelings to our hearts.

Sure, I went through a post-wedding slump like most brides- sad about the things that “went wrong” or didn’t meet my expectations, and the photo ops that were missed- but I thankfully got over it, quickly! I want to only remember the good stuff: the giddy anticipation of our first look, the magic of our ceremony, seeing my beautiful wedding party all dressed up, feeling the love from all our family and friends, and ripping up the dance floor!

Now, with no wedding to plan (and no wedding debt to stress over- thank goodness!) we can simply enjoy being married. I didn’t know if I was going to feel any different after, but I do. It took a few weeks to sink in, but my sense of our commitment is stronger, our love is deeper, and I feel more secure than ever before that this relationship and our beautiful, passionate love for each other isn’t going away, ever. It’s a wonderful thing.

So, three cheers to romantic love and modern marriage, and making it last!

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!”

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.

The Right to Marry WHO and HOW we want to

This blog was featured on Offbeat Bride!

We didn’t start out wanting a big wedding. My partner proposed to me on a gorgeous summer morning in June. That afternoon we went for a hike, walking together on a blissful cloud of love, and naturally began discussing how we envisioned our wedding.

She revealed that she had always wanted a beach wedding. I wanted to incorporate elements of my pagan spirituality in the ceremony. We both agreed it had to be in the summer. Since we don’t have a lot of money, we thought a simple party in one of Vancouver’s lovely beach parks would be perfect. We’d invite 30 or so people, immediate family and our closest friends, and have a potluck picnic. Simple, inexpensive, no frills.

Then a funny thing happened. We announced our engagement by emailing everyone a photo slideshow I had created, and a lot of people got really excited. And we got more excited along with them. When we first sat and wrote down all the names of the people we wanted to be there, we had over 100! If we stayed with our original “intimate wedding” plan, that meant NOT inviting a lot of people that we loved, and who loved us.

We got to thinking- this is a major life event, and should be celebrated properly! We are undervaluing our wedding and treating it like a kid’s birthday party in a park! This isn’t good enough for family to fly across the country for! We are completely committed to building a life together ’til death do us part, so we might as well kick that off with a helluva party. We realized we wanted a real wedding.

What’s a real wedding?

Every couple has their own answer to that question, but it’s a very potent (and political) one for same-sex couples. We are lucky enough to live in Canada where it has been legal since 2004, and I am so thankful for that. We are also lucky enough to have supportive and loving families, so planning a more formal wedding wasn’t our way of making our relationship more “legitimate” in their eyes- but I know that IS the case for some. They want the whole grand affair to prove to their parents, friends, themselves, and society at large that this is a real wedding.

Same-sex weddings are still new enough that a lot of people wonder how different they will be compared to a straight wedding. I suspect that some straight people automatically think that all queers are alternative, counter-culture types and in their minds gay wedding = rainbow musical theatre circus. Or something to that effect. I guess they just don’t know how many conservative, mild-mannered queers there are out there, who plan black tie formals and get married in churches.

Interestingly, I see that more and more straight couples are throwing out the wedding rule book and getting married in a myriad of offbeat, eccentric and entirely unique ways, whereas it seems like many same-sex couples are adhering to traditional customs. Go figure.

Some people expect gay weddings to be different, for a variety of personal reasons and pop culture assumptions. Straight or queer aside, we hear more about the challenges couples face with their non-traditional wedding plans, but how about the challenges/criticisms/judgements we face when we choose to include tradition? I have personally experienced this- close family and friends expressing their disappointment in our more conventional ideas in not so tactful ways. My Mother hoped we would elope. Others have openly displayed their surprise that we were having a bridal party (?!). I was hurt- do they think my wedding is less cool now that they know there will be flower girls and a father-daughter dance? And I was confused- WHY should a same-sex wedding be so different from a straight wedding?

I didn’t set out to make my wedding gay, but by having two women at the altar we are put in that category by default. I feel that I am planning pretty much the same kind of wedding I would have wanted whether I was marrying a man, or a woman (personal note: I did at one point in my late 20’s get very close to marrying a man). This celebration will reflect who we are as individuals, not as gay people.

The heart of this party is the joining together of two people in love, and their two families becoming one. Truly, this is what has sustained us when we had our doubts about it all- we want our parents, siblings, extended family and our circle of friends to meet each other and share in this one special day together.

I know that it will be the first same-sex wedding for most of our guests- myself included! I hope that afterwards, even if they hadn’t thought much about it before, our guests will go home and muse on the fact that ours was just like any other wedding. And I hope that this realization will have a ripple effect that eventually encompasses the entire world, as more people will accept that our love is like any other love and can be celebrated in any way we choose.

Fundraising success!

Early on in our planning process, we decided to throw a fundraiser of some sort to help us with wedding expenses. I discovered that this type of thing has been going on for centuries! In Europe, they were called a Bid-Ale, and people would gather to drink ale at the house of the beneficiary. Sounds like a modern-day keg party!

Today, these types of fundraiser parties, where the goal is to help a couple with their wedding expenses, are called ‘Stag and Does’ or ‘Jack and Jill’ parties. To confuse matters, these terms are used in other geographic areas to mean a co-ed bachelor/ette party. This is not what I’m talking about.

At a Stag & Doe fundraiser, all the couple’s family, friends, wedding party, and neighbours come out to drink, dance, play games, buy raffle tickets, and basically throw money at the newly engaged couple. Most of the time, families and friends love being generous, and these events typically raise anywhere from $6K – $12K! Apparently these are quite uncommon in the USA (I’m not sure why), whereas they are the norm in many parts of Canada, particularly Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

I however, live in British Columbia. No one here knows what a Stag & Doe is. And we don’t have much family close by. So my partner and I knew we had to just throw a good party.

Since we played on a queer women’s softball team last year, we have a lot of connections in the East Vancouver lesbian community. We decided to throw a queer dance, but open to anyone who wanted to come. We booked the hall and the DJ back in November, and all the members of our wedding party who live here in the city were totally on board with volunteering their time to help. A month ago, I designed the poster with my intermediate Photoshop skills, we got tickets printed, and we promoted heavily through our social networks.

For anyone who has ever thrown an event, you know the stress involved. Not only are there one hundred things you need to organize, there’s the added nerves of “will anyone come? if we don’t make any money will we at least break even?”

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. I was very happy with the turnout, and the vibe in the crowd was great! The DJ was a lot of fun, and had people dancing for hours. Like I said, since it was a queer event, primarily for lesbians, there were a lot of beautiful women at the party. And in my humble opinion, that always makes for a great party. 😉

At midnight my partner and I changed into our costumes to prepare for our Burlesque routine. Yes, we were fully invested in this fundraiser: graphic design, promotion, bar management, decoration, volunteer coordination, gear transportation and clean-up, and entertainment. Lol!

Everyone was screaming at us as we danced out our choreographed story and piece by piece of clothing was taken off. By the time I was twirling my pasties and she was dancing around with electrical tape covering her nipples, all the stress leading up to the event was gone. This party was a big hit.

We’d had over $1000 worth of prizes donated for our raffle, which was a partial fundraiser for the BC Civil Liberties group too. Raffle tickets didn’t sell as well as we’d hoped, but we still managed to make slightly more than $300. The winners were happy to take home their prizes. We are donating half back to the BCCLA.

In the end, after our expenses were all paid, we profited a little more than $1000! This now puts us ahead of our wedding expenses, meaning we have wedding savings instead of wedding debt!

Will you have a Stag & Doe, or some other type of fundraiser event to help you with wedding costs? Or what other creative methods have you come up with to raise money to put towards the expenses?

Taken care of

This past weekend I went away on a weekend tour. I perform professionally, playing piano and singing Jazz as well as my own Soul/Pop songs. I live in Vancouver, BC, and I was traveling to Vancouver Island, playing three shows Thursday – Sunday. (side note: my gigs went really well and I had a great time)

A little backstory: in September 2008, my fiancée and I had been seeing each other for all of one week before I embarked on my first tour. I was promoting my new CD release, and covering 12 cities in three provinces over two and a half weeks. Much to my surprise, she couriered a care package to my Calgary, AB, venue- with snacks, a love note, and some cute boxers to sleep in. No one had ever done something like that for me; it was such a sweet and romantic gesture.

Ever since then, she has always prepared a care package for me when I’m going away on tour without her. Somehow, this has not become something I take for granted, or something I expect. So while I wasn’t exactly surprised when I saw this on the table waiting for me when I got up last Thursday morning, I was still blown away by its grandness. It was a care package on an epic scale:

My favourite rice chips,
Sesame roasted seaweed snacks,
Clementine oranges,
Homemade granola bars and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies,
Orange mango juice boxes
Ginger candies and bags of Licorice tea (for my throat)
Three fruit and nut bars,
and yes, a love note in a cute teddy bear card.

Seriously! I know I am the luckiest (spoiled, maybe?) girl in the world.

So, even though I prefer it when she can actually come with me on tour, these care packages kind of make up for it. Although no granola bar will sell my CDs for me. 😉

What kind of romantic gestures does your lover do on a regular basis? Or what do YOU do for them?

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