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!

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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!”

The Final Countdown – 4 weeks to go!


I must admit, I’m slightly stunned as I type the words four weeks to go. We’ve been engaged for just over a year now, and I cannot believe that the wedding, MY wedding, our wedding, is in one month!

Since my Ultimate 2-Month Wedding Checklist was such a hit, I have decided to follow up with another: How to get everything done in the last month before your wedding without losing your sanity or your grip on the budget. Or, The Final Countdown, for short.

(please note: I am not an expert on this matter, nor a professional wedding planner. I have however, been involved in throwing large-scale live events and festivals before, and I value authenticity and affordability over “perfection”- which is hugely subjective. Just sayin’.)

First order of business is to (ahem) finish everything that you haven’t got to on your two-month checklist.

Confession time: I still haven’t made our cocktail reception iPod playlist, compiled a list of responsibilities for our key players and wedding party, finalized the timeline and itinerary, or sent our rehearsal dinner invites. So, all those tasks are being pushed to the front-line now, since every day (tick-tock tick-tock) time is running out.

Similar to the Ultimate 2-Month Wedding Checklist, continue to use the optional add-on of “or get some else to do it” as necessary.

Gotta look good

  • Your dress might be ready to go, or you may have a final fitting. If you do, leave yourself enough time (2-3 weeks) before the big day just in case further alterations are needed.
  • Go to your hair and make up trials, if you have them. Or, DIY to figure out your “bridal look”.
  • Lots of brides whiten their teeth. Well, there’s all that white to compete with! Two weeks is sufficient time for the at-home process, or if you are going all out, visit the dentist.
  • Start breaking in your wedding shoes if they are new, wearing them inside the house. Your feet will thank you.

 
Ceremonial Matters

  • If you haven’t bought your marriage license yet or met with your officiate to finalize the ceremony, now’s the time. (This applies less to church weddings that provide the license and have a standard ceremony)
  • Talk to your signing witnesses and let them know what they need to do and when.
  • If you aren’t going to do a “dry run” of the procession with your bridal party, communicate the basic outline of the ceremony, the processional order and who they might be paired with, etc., so everyone has a good idea of how it’s supposed to go.
  • Talk to your parents about whether you will be doing a receiving line after the ceremony, what that will look like, and where that will happen.
  • Who is cueing your pre-ceremony and processional music? What format do they want it in (CD, mp3)? Or if you are having live musicians, touch base with the band leader a few weeks out to go over the details.

 
Getting organized

  • Usually you have to confirm your numbers with your venue and caterer 3-4 weeks out. Make sure they are clear on your expectations, and you are clear on theirs.
  • If you are having one, make plans and invite people to the rehearsal dinner.
  • Communicate with your photographer about the timeline for the day, when formal portraits will be taken, if any, and give them a list of “must have” photos if you so desire (I am!)
  • Speak with your wedding party and key players and confirm their day-of tasks and responsibilities.
  • Since you’ve already double-checked and confirmed your honeymoon plans (right?), you should now make a packing list. If you are leaving within a few days of the wedding, you’ll definitely want to pack beforehand.
  • Confirm with your venue when you can come in to decorate, when they want your guests to leave, all your stuff gone, etc.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure you have gifts for everyone you want to have gifts for: your fiancé(e), wedding party, parents, out-of-town guests (welcome bags), guests (wedding favours), maybe your officiate too.
  • Who’s looking after your place/plants/pets while you’re gone?
  • Know when your day-of deliveries are happening, confirm the addresses with them, as well as who is greeting them at your venue(s).
  • Make sure you’ll have a couple of emergency kits handy on the big day, one with each bridal party. This is a great task to ask your Maid of Honour, Mom, or fiancé(e) to do.
  • A couple of days before the wedding, prepare your tip envelopes and designate who will be in charge of them.
  • Confirm the day-of transportation for everyone in the wedding party.

 
Money Matters

  • Cheerfully make all your final payments on time (difficult, I know).
  • Don’t overspend at the last minute. It’s like impulse buying at the checkout. You don’t really need those extras.

 
The Tiny Print

  • Read your vendor contracts. Yes, I know it’s boring.
  • Know when your final payments are due, and how you’ll pay for them.
  • Inform your credit card company if you’ll be traveling for your honeymoon. No fun to have your card frozen when you’re in a foreign country.

 
As cliché as it sounds, the best advice for any bride who is four weeks away from her wedding (like I am as I write this) is BREATHE. That, and do the best time management and multi-tasking of your life. You/We/I will get through this! And no matter what happens (well… almost) our weddings will be beautiful, full of joy and love.

If you’re reading this, that means you are likely days away from your wedding– congratulations! I wish you the best. Let me know if this checklist helps… 🙂

Your Ultimate 2-month Wedding Checklist

*This post consistently gets the most hits. Please, if this checklist helps you out, let me know about it in the comments!*

I’m not usually one to sing my own praises, but seriously folks, this checklist is one of the most complete and kick-ass references you’ll ever find on the interweb. 😉

Necessity is the Mother of all invention, as the saying goes, as I am now at the two month mark. How did we get here already? Seems like not so long ago that I was thinking about this far-off daydream, and now I’m waking up and realizing this is happening in eight weeks!

Here I get to brag and report that my fiancée has been so supportive and helpful in this process even when she had to focus on her studies. If anyone reading is a bride with a partner who is not pulling their weight in this- kick their butt already! Clearly delegate some tasks to them, ones that they show interest in or can do easily. Think of this process as a metaphor for your marriage! Weddings, like a lifetime together, require people working together.

Well enough of the banter, here is the:

Ultimate 2-month Wedding Checklist!

Please note: to make this checklist even more awesome, you have the option of adding on “or get someone else to do it” to almost every item!

Gotta look good
• Schedule your dress fittings. Remember to bring stockings, shoes, the appropriate bra, hair accessories, jewelry, a camera, and your mom or best friend
• Personal wedding accessories; have them decided or if you’re going to order anything, do it now (hello, Etsy!)
• Finalize list of must-have photos. Give a copy to your photographer(s)
• If you want to start something new, begin pre-wedding beauty regimen now (milk baths? teeth whitening?)
• Go to your hair and makeup trials, or start doing your own
• Confirm hair, makeup and any other appointments on or close to your wedding day


Ceremonial matters
• Write your own vows, if you are. Let the officiate know of any readings or other special requests
• Meet with your officiate to finalize the ceremony, including attendant’s names and processional order
• If you haven’t already, confirm your ceremony music plans, as well as pre- and post-; whether that’s booking musicians or making iPod playlists
• If your venue is outside or has an open floor plan, think about how you want the seating arranged for the ceremony, and where the aisle/altar/chuppah/arch will go if you are having one
• Will you be making your own programs? Get started on that job now, or make your print order


Getting organized
• Assuming you have already sent out your invitations, you can now begin to keep track of your RSVPs, stalking your mailbox or your inbox every day (squeee!)
• Finalize list of responsibilities for key players and bridal party. Have a friendly get-together with everyone and delegate who is going to do what
• Make plans for rehearsal dinner
• Invite selected guests for the rehearsal dinner
• Confirm honeymoon plans with travel agency/hotel/airline/etc.
• Make checklist of items to bring for the honeymoon
• Finalize receiving line, timeline, and itinerary of the day/weekend
• Begin writing thank-you notes for bridal shower and early wedding
gifts you receive, and update your registry at the same time
• If not already done, purchase thank you gifts for your wedding party
• Are you doing favours? Figure that s#!t out


The Tiny Print
• If your venue does not provide it, find out where to get your marriage license, and purchase it
• Tackle outstanding legal matters if applicable (e.g. name change, pre-marital counseling, blood test, etc.)
• Do you want something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue? Lock that down
• If you need a passport to travel on your honeymoon, get that application in now

 
There. Now you are armed with the most comprehensive second-to-last-month-before-wedding checklist. Use it wisely, young bride-to-be, and all will be well. And before you get overwhelmed, remember to use the optional add-on: get someone else to do it! Weddings should be a team effort, even if it’s a team of two.

Let me know if this was helpful, and good luck!

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.

More wedding DIY: Making flower crowns

I was very excited to start my second wedding DIY project- making flower crowns for my flower girls! Or in my case, flower faeries since they’ll be wearing cute little wings!

I knew early on that I wanted them to wear flower crowns (a tradition that dates back to ancient Grecian times, as it turns out!) and I also knew that I wanted to make them. They are fairly easy to make, and are not very time consuming. I’m very pleased with how they turned out, and happy to share how I made them. So without further adieu, here is my

Flower Crown Tutorial to make your Flower Girls Even Cuter

I purchased my supplies from Michael’s craft store. I was lucky in that they were having a 20% off sale that day, so my total for the two crowns was $25. I bought an ivy garland for the base, four peony flower picks, green waterproof floral tape, craft butterflies, and two spools of ribbon (not shown).

Using the wire cutter on a pair of pliers, I cut off the blooms from two of the peony picks. (I’m so glad I didn’t cut all four up- and I’ll tell you why a bit later on.)

I found that I also needed the pliers to bend some of the stems, so they could align better with the garland and be easier to tape on.

Here is the ivy garland, unraveled. I used this for the base of the crowns. I cut it in half, since it was 6 feet long. I folded it back on itself to make a ‘U’ shape. Having an open back is easier to wear, since it adjusts to head size and hairstyles. I fastened it in place with a few pieces of the floral tape, you don’t need much because you’ll be using lots of tape to fasten the flowers to it.

Here I’ve laid out all the supplies, ready to start attaching the blooms to the garland. I played with the flowers a bit, arranging them and re-arranging them to see where I wanted to place them. I started at one end and worked my way around, using the tape to fasten the blooms to the garland.

Before I knew it, I was done! I was so excited I showed my fiancée, who at first appeared to be as enthused as I was. Soon after however, she expressed some concern that the flowers were too… big. Defensive, I disagreed, I thought it looked fine. After examining it for another minute however, and looking at myself in the mirror, I had to agree. I mean, if it looked big on me, how was it going to look on a six year old?

This is why I was happy that I hadn’t cut up the other two floral picks! I went back to Michael’s the very next day and returned those two for smaller white roses and pink rose buds. And they were even cheaper than the peony bunches so I got money back!

Here are my new supplies, ready to try again. I was much happier with the flowers and their colours!

Here’s a close up of the tape used to attach the flowers to the garland. Use as much as you need. Best thing is, you can easily unwrap it, re-arrange the blooms as needed, and re-use the tape. And don’t worry how it looks because…

…once you cover it with the ribbon wrapping it looks great! I love the shimmery green ribbon I found- on sale in the dollar bin!

Et voila! Flower crown version 2.0 a success! I love how they look and I must say I am very proud of my handiwork.

See the butterfly? So cute! I know that our flower fairies will look adorable, and hopefully these flower crowns are something they keep and love for years to come.

Let me know if this inspires you to make your own flower crowns!

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