Tuesday, April 30, 2013

10 Things I Learned From Planning My Wedding


I got married to the love of my life on September 16, 2012. As the first one out of my friends to get married, I learned a few things along the way and thought it would be nice to share my top 10 wedding tips that I learned from planning my big day.
10. It doesn’t necessarily take a year to plan a beautiful wedding.
I remember when we first got engaged people asked us two questions right off the bat – where and when would be having our wedding. “You have to book your venue right away! It’s only 11 months until you want to get married!” Umm... 11 months is still a lot of time. I remember feeling this immediate pressure to start planning when all we wanted to do was take some time to enjoy the feeling of being newly engaged and admire my pretty new ring. As we went through our wedding planning process, and since then as some of my friends have gotten engaged, I realized that there’s way more flexibility in venue availability (for example, choosing to get married on a Sunday) than we initially thought. Since there are so many factors to consider I would really recommend taking your time, enjoying the planning process, and looking into contract specifics before locking down a venue.
9. The wedding is about the couple, but it’s not only about the couple.
Weddings are family celebrations. Yes the main focus is on the couple, but most of the time weddings are a big deal for the families involved. We are very fortunate to have extremely understanding family and friends who were so considerate about what kind of wedding we wanted, but even then there were a few things that we had to compromise on to best suit everyone’s needs.  Unless you are eloping (and even then, there will most likely be hurt feelings!), it’s not just two people joining together, but two families as well. 
8. Etsy.com is one of the most valuable websites you’ll find throughout the planning process.
Wondering where to buy those cute props you see in all those engagement photos? How about where to pick up cake toppers? Bridal hair accessories? Stationary? You’ll find it all on Etsy, trust me. Best of all, this website is a marketplace where small businesses and craftsmanship are valued and promoted. It’s truly a community and a wonderful resource. When the invitation templates we kept seeing around seemed a little too cookie-cutter for our taste, a friend recommended searching on Etsy. We got our invitations through a wonderful little shop called Love In Writing and couldn’t have asked for better service. In fact, we went right back and ordered our programs, menus, and table numbers and were blown away by the quality of our stationary. Etsy should not be overlooked!

Wedding-invitations
Photo copyright of daveandcharlotte.com
 7. Creating a wedding timeline is a great way to help plan your day and keep things running on time.
I created a simple spreadsheet in excel that had columns for the description, time, and duration of each activity on our wedding day. I distributed it to the wedding party and our vendors so each person knew where they were supposed to be and who they could get a hold of in case things were running late. It might not be the perfect wedding planning guide, but it was still a great tool that listed out all of our details and helped us from forgetting all the little things.
6. No matter how much planning you do, be prepared for everything to run late.
Despite everything I said above, no matter how much you plan, shit will run late. Maybe if you’re Monica from Friends everything will be on time, but let’s be realistic. With so many people involved and all those appointments to coordinate, it’s just not gonna happen. Accept that no matter how much planning you do some things will be out of your control, but if you’re lucky enough to have a kick-ass bridal party they’ll make sure to oversee the details, keep that champagne flowing, and keep the bride stress free. C’est la vie!
5. Hire a coordinator for the day of the wedding.
I cannot stress this tip enough! Think you can take care of coordinating all the details yourself? Think again. As the bride you’re busy getting dolled up, taking pictures, and if you’re a super procrastinator like me, finishing up your thank you speech as you’re getting ready (oops). What if you don't have access to your venue until the day of your wedding - who’s taking care of overseeing the centerpieces? How about setting up the aisle markers and seating chart? We couldn’t afford to hire a wedding planner, and though our venue came with an onsite coordinator (who was lovely), she only showed up an hour before the wedding and as I found out the week before, it was not “in her job description” to set up the items that weren’t provided by the venue (ie: place settings, floral arrangements, cake and cake toppers, seating chart, programs, etc.). What an absolute headache! My bridesmaids were getting ready with me so they couldn’t help either. Thankfully I have the best friends in the world and with some added muscle from the groomsmen they were able to put everything together in the knick of time. I hope you learn from my oversight and save yourself the stress – hire a coordinator!
4. Things will go wrong. Guaranteed. Some people may notice, most will not.
I found this super fun idea in lieu of the typical seating chart. In actuality, despite using heavyweight paper, it was a disaster and those chairs were toppled over within an hour. By the time I saw it later in the evening, what could I do? But let me tell you, I did not receive one single comment about our failed attempt and when it came time for dinner all of our guests ended up finding their assigned seat. No matter how much planning you do, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and let the little things go.
3. Photography is expensive but absolutely worth it.
It’s going to be expensive for a high quality photographer and you’ll pay for their experience (yes we’re talking a few thousand), but this is one area where you do not want to skimp. Make sure you’re on the same page and you vibe with your photographer so you know that you feel comfortable together (trust me, it shows in the pictures!). Before our wedding, I totally thought engagement shoots were overrated but in reality ours was a great way to get to know our photographer, and his style of photography and direction, before the big day. We worked with Dave Biesse of DaveandCharlotte.com and I couldn’t recommend anyone better. Worth every single penny.
2. People say one thing but do another.
The week before our wedding, three of our guests cancelled their RSVPS, but if that wasn’t enough, the day of our rehearsal ceremony (two days prior to our wedding), one of Matthew’s groomsmen bailed. In fact, he didn’t even tell us directly, but instead told his wife, who passed along the message to Matthew’s sister, who let us know during our rehearsal dinner. This “friend” lied about booking his airfare and to this day he hasn’t had the balls to call Matthew directly and explain what went on. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’m sure you can imagine how hurt my husband was and how furious I was. It was two days before our wedding – what could we do? As I said in tip #4, you just gotta roll with it and realize in the grand scheme of things we were surrounded by our nearest and dearest and that’s all that mattered.
1. Take the time to soak it all in.
I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before but that is because it is so true! Oh-em-gee how quickly your wedding day passes by. Do your best to take it all in. Don’t be overly concerned about whether things are running exactly as you planned them. You’ve created your wedding timeline (#7). People know where they’re supposed to be. Things will go wrong (#4) and everything will most likely run a bit late (#6). But you know what? It happens all the time. Wedding coordinators are used to it. Let them deal with the details and instead choose to be present in the moment. Steal some time away with your new hubby and soak it all in. Try to be a guest at your own wedding and enjoy the massive celebration that you spent all those months planning! The day really does pass by that quickly.

Our first dance as captured by Dave Biesse of daveandcharlotte.com

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday May 1st, I will be running a 5 week series called Wedding Wednesday (yes I'm super clever). It will be a styling series for all the ladies who might want a little bit of inspiration on getting dressed for their pre-wedding events. First up - what to wear for your engagement photo shoot (and a glimpse at my own pictures). Join me tomorrow, won't you?

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Mani Monday: Neon Yellow

  Manicure-neon

Manicure-neon-yellow
 
I was so happy to receive this neon yellow polish, aptly titled “Electric Shock”, courtesy of Nail Chemistry. How bright and fun is this colour?! As I’m sure you’ve seen, neon is all the rage this season, and my favourite way to incorporate this trend into my wardrobe is through pops of brightness here and there, like on my nails or through my accessories, as an unexpected way to brighten up my outfit.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April Monthly Reads



This site is actually more like a daily read. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and makes me laugh all the time! Plus can you believe that the Ms. Assistant herself recently scored herself a TV comedy with CBS?

Is travel always an escape? For me, it’s more than that (as I’ve touched on here in my first post and discussed a bit more here with my thoughts on travel). I hope I am building a life that I don’t need to escape from.

I’ve heard of couch surfing, but meal sharing? What a cool idea and fantastic way to connect with locals.

The only food blog I read. Literally laugh out loud funny. *NSFW

I know I already linked to this in my thoughts on travel, but in case you missed it, this article about the value of travel from a recent college grad is a great read.

3 great tips for packing small purses from a fellow Canadian style blogger. 

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Monday, April 22, 2013

What I'm Loving: Cargo Jackets

Lately I have been seriously coveting cargo jackets! While on the online shopping hunt, I came across this crazy beautiful Preen army green and leather blazer. In the words of Rachel Zoe, “I die!” At almost $500, my credit card just about had a heart attack and refused to come out of its hiding place, so I had to settle for creating a virtual outfit instead. Now I know this isn't considered a cargo jacket but it has the military look I was going for. Can you tell I was feeling a tough girl vibe here? I figured since I could never afford this blazer anyway, I might as well style it with other completely unattainable pieces (at lease for my budget). See that beautiful black Alexander McQueen bustier? How about the Balenciaga leather and suede pants and swoon worthy purse? Each item retails at over $1700. Ah well, a girl can dream...
What I'm Loving: Cargo Jacket
On the other hand, the Nars lipstick , Baublebar necklace, Essie nail polish, and Michael Kors sandals are right up my alley.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Motorcycle Tour Through Sapa Valley, Vietnam

After receiving a not-so-nice welcome to Hanoi, I decided to travel further north and experience the beauty that is Sapa. This area is absolutely stunning! The scenery is exquisite and truly breathtaking. I wish my camera could do it justice.
 
Sapa-Vietnam
 
locals-sapa

(You might recognize my first photo from this post.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekend Wear: Wedge Sneakers and Chambray


You know those lazy days when all you want to do is hang out in your baggiest sweatpants and not go anywhere? I am definitely having one of those Saturdays. But let's pretend I'm not and instead getting ready to meet up with some friends or going out to enjoy a beautiful spring picnic in the park (hah - we just got hit with a late season snow storm yesterday so I doubt that picnic will be happening any time soon).

I put together a couple of outfits - the first incorporating my guilty pleasure and huge spring trend - wedge sneakers! Am I awful for secretly loving these?! Oh well... guess the secret's out now... the heart loves what the heart loves (or something like that). Throw a bit of distressed denim in there paired with cute glasses and a casual tote and you're all set.

Weekend Casual

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Thoughts On Travel

 
I alluded to some of my thoughts on travel and living a happier lifestyle in my first post, but the truth is that right now my husband and I are not in a position, career-wise or money-wise, where we can just pick up and take off whenever our hearts desire for however long we desire. So for the meantime we try to incorporate travel in our lives in smaller ways, like taking advantage of long weekends and mini-vacations, to get out and explore even if it’s just checking out local attractions. We started off 2013 by celebrating our honeymoon in Jamaica and are planning to travel to Trinidad & Tobago and Chicago later this year for two weddings we will be attending.   

honeymoon-sandals-jamaica
Enjoying our honeymoon in Jamaica. Our first time at an all inclusive resort!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

{TV Review} Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 2 Recap

Spoilers Ahead!

Click here to check out my review for Season 3 Episode 1 from last week.

The writers heard my plea last week and started off this episode with Bran, Rican, Osha, and Hodor (Hodor!). I was so distracted by Bran’s new pubescent face and voice that it took a while for me to pay attention to his dream. Then who should hijack Bran’s vision but the kid from Love Actually! It seems that Jojen Reed will become a crucial character who will guide Bran as he develops his gift. I just don’t quite understand why Jojen also seems to be physically weak – is this a characteristic of wargs? Do all wargs have a psychic-we-can-see-things-together connection?


game-of-thrones-jojen
 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

What I'm Wearing: An Afternoon At The Museum

I’ve lived in Canada’s capital city on and off for about 6 years and would you believe that I’ve only ever visited one museum here? It’s weird, when I travel to other cities I make a point to research and check out local attractions, but here in my very own backyard I haven’t really done the touristy thing. I am happy to say I can now add the Canadian Museum of Nature as #2.

Matthew (my husband) and I saw several exhibitions but our favourites were the the dinosaur and ocean life galleries. We also got to see a huge gold coin that weighed 100 kg (220 lbs) and was worth over $1M. Check out my instagram if you'd like to see that pic.

But really, let’s be honest, it doesn’t take too long for me to get bored at museums so after we had a lovely and cultural afternoon I went to go snap photos for my first outfit post. As you can see, we still have lots of snow so I chose black boots with a cozy scarf to stay practical but paired them with a lace tee and cobalt blue jeggings to keep the outfit interesting (I hate myself a little bit for using the word ‘jeggings’ in regular conversation now).

Outfit-Post-Winter

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Spring Trend: Mint and White


For a day of sightseeing in the spring...

I would love to actually be able to wear this outfit right now but despite the calendar saying April 3rd it’s still below freezing in Ottawa! Instead I shall have to pretend that it’s warm enough to wear cute sandals and go outside in just a blazer. 

Mint and white spring outfit

I love the “city styling” of this outfit and think it would be great to wear when you’re out sightseeing but still want to look polished and fashionable. The mint jeans paired with bright accessories, like a turquoise statement necklace or bright crossbody purse, pop against white neutrals like a great blazer and lace tshirt.  I might sub out the blazer for a cardigan depending on the temperature and whether I wanted to stay on the casual side. A crossbody purse is absolutely necessary if you’re like me and need to have your hands free so you can snap pictures when you're out exploring a new city. And hey guess what – see the cute blue purse on the left? It actually doubles as a camera bag!

Come on spring where are you!!

Linking up with Lauren's Style Sessions over at her blog Stylelixir

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

{TV Review} Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1 Recap

Spoilers Ahead!

Let me start by saying that I was never the type to enjoy fantasy novels or movies but there’s something different about Game of Thrones and I am hooked!  The production design is excellent, the dialogue is always interesting, and I look forward to a new episode each week.  Unfortunately we have to wait a year in between seasons but at least the wait is over!

When we last left Westeros at the end of season two, white walkers were attacking The Wall and the Lannisters won a wicked battle to remain in power at King’s Landing.  The third season begins in the north where Sam and the majority of the Night’s Watch have managed to survive a white walker attack and Jon Snow sees his first giant in wildling camp.  I’m really interested to see where Jon’s storyline goes and how his chemistry plays out with Ygritte (wildling girl).

jon-snow-game-of-thrones
Photo courtesy of IGN

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