Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Wrap Up

Well, that's a wrap on my time as a bride! It's been just over three months since the big day. So far so good as far as married life is concerned! I haven't posted in awhile as it has been busy settling into our new married life routine in our new place in a new town. (New town for me anyways!) I really wanted to share one final post with everyone to summarize how things went for us, as well as provide some insight into what you future brides (or perhaps grooms) can expect on your wedding day.

Overall, we definitely exceeded our original budget. We also had more financial assistance than we originally thought so it all worked out in the end! As it turns out, wedding related services are more expensive than we had imagined. Despite underestimating some of our costs, there were several things we didn't want to sacrifice. In our case, we looked at our wedding day as a one time special celebration of our love and union instead of a money-making party. Many couples hope to break even or make money when they get married. While this mindset is totally fine - we did not have this frame of mind when planning our big day. Of course, we didn't spend our money on super extravagent unnecessary items (in our opinion) but we definitely didn't say no to the things we both really wanted.

In addition to constantly changing our minds about things, there were also lots of last minute items to pay for that we didn't even think of. Some things that you don't think to add to the original budget will come up. Examples for us included things like thank you cards, postage, gifts for the wedding party etc. It is always best to make sure you have some extra cash available to you, whether in the form of savings or allowable debt. Also be sure to remember your cheques on the big day!

As the months and weeks flew by, we became more comfortable with the amount of money we had to spend on our wedding. We both really believe that the biggest regrets you can have in life are the things you don't do. We didn't want to look back at our wedding day thinking "I wish we did this, I wish we had that!" For example, we still had a small cake even though we had a dessert buffet, we had our wedding day stationary designed and hand written by a professional calligrapher instead of simply getting these items printed, we served locally purchased loose leaf tea and coffee grinds instead of our venue's standard tea and coffee service, and we splurged on a horse and carriage for transportation instead of a limousine. Of course we could have opted out of these things, but we couldn't imagine our day without them! The small details really made our day special and did not go unnoticed by our guests.

Ultimately, we looked at our wedding as a party for everyone to enjoy - not just ourselves. In our opinion, the details that we incorporated really enhanced the day from our guests' perspective. Sure - we spent a little more than most couples would on certain things, but we felt it was worth it. We actually had quite a few guests tell us that our wedding was the best they had ever been to. Hearing that really made us feel like we accomplished what we had set out to do!

One thing I definitely splurged on was my wedding dress. The dress I chose was at the very top of my comfort spending range, but I loved it in every single way. Sure, I tried on a cheaper one that I liked, but I didn't LOVE it. All along, I felt like the dress was a really big part of my day (perhaps because I've spent the last 8 years working in fashion retail...) and I wasn't prepared to say no to the dress that I loved. I wanted to be able to look back at the photos knowing that I felt and looked my best. My advice on dress shopping is this: don't say no to the dress that you love just because you find a cheaper one that you like. Even though you will only wear the dress once, you will cherish the photos and/or videos forever. Not to mention, all of your guests will forever remember what you looked like on your big day!

We also chose so spend some extra money on a videographer. The going rate for a professional videographer is definitely out of budget for many couples. With so many photos, it is hard to see the value in spending the extra money on such a similar service. Honestly, we were pretty hesitant to book a videographer at first. As I began to read more wedding blogs myself, I realized that forgoing a videographer was a very common regret amongst most brides. That bearing in mind, we started shopping around for a better deal. Luckily, our network came in handy here and we were able to find someone to do it for less than the average rate. We are so happy we have a video of our wedding: to watch ourselves, to share with our family, and to share with those who could not attend. It is the best gift we could have given ourselves and we are so excited to watch it when we celebrate each of our anniversaries!

In regards to wedding day specific advice, I do have a few points to share!

• Stay hydrated. Make sure you sip water constantly before the ceremony. Being properly hydrated helps to calm the nerves, replaces the fluids lost through sweating (which you will be if you are nervous) and ensures clarity of mind so you can really be present in the moment and remember your day! Prevents headaches, heat exhaustion etc.

•Don't drink too much coffee. I had three coffees while getting ready the morning of the wedding and got the jitters which definitely contributed to my nervousness. Also, coffee is dehydrating! (I was able to calm my coffee jitters by sipping plenty of water before the ceremony!)

•Eat. I am not sure how this happens, but apparently it is possible to forget to eat?? Please don't. Ever. But especially not on your wedding day! Small healthy meals to keep you energized. It's a very long day, and you don't want to be hangry...

•Smile! The camera is on you the entire day and the last thing you want is to see yourself sour/stressed in all of your candid photos and/or your wedding video! Smile, laugh and be jolly!

•Do NOT deal with any issues that come up. Your wedding day has arrived, so anything that happens now is completely out of your hands. There will likely be last minute no shows, unexpected seating changes and minor timing  adjustments. You should have someone assigned to deal with these changes outside of your wedding party; whether a trusted venue employee, your MC, or a close family member/friend. (Leave certain people in charge of certain things.) Don't dwell on any deviations from your original plan. Trust that the people you chose to deal with these issues made the best decision possible, and be appreciative!

•Leave for your honeymoon ASAP! Whether the very next day or a couple days later, whether it's just a night or two a short drive away or a few weeks in another country... make sure you take time away together right after the wedding to unwind and finally enjoy each other's company while not planning or stressing over the wedding! Even if the timing isn't great or if money is a concern, still try to do something together right after. Go camping if that's your thing! Just GO! You will never regret it!

As far as following up goes, the most important thing you can do (other than paying your bills) is thank everyone. Thank your guests, thank your venue, thank your vendors, thank your wedding party, and thank your immediate family for their contributions. No matter the size, it takes a few people to make a wedding come together. Everyone who helped out should receive a specific message of thanks for their individual contrubutions. Whether through speech, email, phone, or card/letter, (relating back to my very first blog post), do not forget to be grateful for the love and support from everyone involved! ~♡~

Monday, 29 August 2016

To Register or NOT to Register

Long gone are the days when brides registered for not one, but two sets of china. (One for everyday, and one for company!) Not as many couples are chosing to register for tangible gifts. More engaged couples are already living together, and thus do not have a need for traditional registry items like dishes, cutlery, linens etc. My fiancé and I were really back and forth on whether we wanted to set up a registry.

Being a previous condo owner, I had almost everything we needed to set up our new home together. When we first got engaged, the idea of registering seemed silly to me. I've given cash as a gift at nearly every wedding I've been to, and the thought of receiving cash and being able to spend it on anything really appealed to me.

A few months into our engagement, we started looking for an apartment. With the big move ahead, I started thinking more seriously about my furnishings and belongings. I came to realize that most of it was either my parents's old stuff, or low quality items I had purchased to get me through university. How nice would it be to have a mini refresh? That's when I started to consider registering!

My fiancé and I knew we would be able to save the majority of the money we would need to pay for the wedding. We both committed to making some financial sacrifices in order to allocate most of our earnings towards the wedding fund. Neither of us were comfortable with accumulating debt to pay for the big day. (Many couples do, and use the monetary gifts they receive to pay off their wedding debts.) With that in perspective, we realized the gifts we would receive on our wedding day would just be a bonus. It's not like we would actually NEED the money to pay off our wedding expenses... so why NOT register!?

Personally, I've always preferred giving and receiving tangible gifts instead of money or gift cards. A lot of people share this sentiment. Setting up a registry gives your guests the choice of purchasing a gift they know you will like. The reality is, you will definitely have guests who will bring gifts to either the wedding or the bridal shower. Without a registry, you may receive items you don't need, want, or like. With a registry, although you know what you're getting ahead of time, you will still have the exciting experience of opening gifts together. You will keep your gifts and the memory of the guests who gifted them to you for a lifetime. ~♡~

Friday, 26 August 2016

Plus Ones

Inviting plus ones is a bit of a controversial topic when it comes to weddings, so I'm going to do my best to be tactfully honest here. (While still expressing my true opinion on this topic!) Initially, we didn't extend plus ones to all of our guests for a number of reasons. As the RSVP deadline drew closer, we eventually decided to let all of our friends bring their dates. Below, I will outline the main arguments we had AGAINST inviting plus ones, justifying our original decision. (This is definitely something I've had to explain to a lot of people!)

Before I dig a little deeper into these arguments, I want to clarify what a "plus one" means to US. Let's say one of our friends has been seeing someone for a few years, maybe they live together, chances are we have hung out with both of them on multiple occasions. We wouldn't count our friend's date as a plus one; rather, we would address the invitation to both of them as a couple. We consider both of them to be our friends. On the flip side: if one of our friends has been seeing someone for a few months, maybe they're on and off, maybe they're a young couple, maybe we assume this isn't a long term relationship, or maybe we've only met them once or twice, that would be considered a plus one. We would address the invite to our friend, and a plus one for their date. (Whoever this happens to be at the time...)

I really hope no one takes offense to the above generalizations. As it turns out, five of our guests who were going to bring a plus one have since broke up, so I'm not wrong! If you're currently planning a wedding, know that breakups (among an array of other life events/emergencies) WILL happen, so make sure you can be flexible with your table/seating plan.

Most people would agree that bringing someone to a wedding signals that you're quite serious about the relationship; however, it doesn't mean you'll stay with that person forever. (Hence my above example of the five breakups!) When you invite plus ones, you might be inviting people to your special day that you will never see or meet again.  We couldn't possibly justify this, given our venue capacity. I've actually been to several weddings as a date for couples I had never met before, and have never seen or heard from since. Reflecting on this now, I actually feel somewhat guilty for having attended, taking up a valuable seat.

The number one (no pun intended) reason we didn't initially allow plus ones for everyone is due to our reception venue capacity. With all of our close friends and family, without plus ones, we still ended up sending out more invitations than our venue could actually accomodate. It came down to a matter of whether we were going to invite a few more friends, or extend plus ones. Obviously, we would rather have more people there who are important to us. So, this was the main reason we decided to axe the plus ones when we sent out our invitations.

Our reception venue capacity is 160, and we planned our budget with our venue assuming an attendance of 150. We invited upwards of 170, which was a little risky, but we knew that several people would likely decline. Once we started receiving a few decline responses, we felt good about changing our minds and allowing plus ones for our friends. Who said there was anything wrong with changing your mind!? ~♡~

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Setting a Date

Reflecting on the past 10 months,  I can confidently say that choosing dates for all of our events was one of the biggest challenges we faced. In addition to making sure everyone in our immediate families as well as the wedding party were available, we also had to make sure venues could accommodate us on our chosen dates. In order to accomodate everyone's schedules, we've had to be very flexible with our plans.

For our wedding day, we originally wanted to have it during the fall. Additionally, knowing that there would be tons of out of town guests, we wanted to chose a long weekend to make it easier for everyone to arrange travel plans. After discussing these factors together, we had actually set a date on the long weekend in October and we were all set to start looking for a venue.

As it turns out, the church that my fiancé and I wanted to be married in is closed for painting for several months, starting in mid-September. Looking at some other options, September 3rd fit the bill for the long weekend. Although we don't get the fall wedding we had initially imagined, we are still able to incorporate many fall themed elements. Labour day weekend is often thought of as the unofficial turning point from summer to fall, so a lot of fall ideas will still work really well on this date. 

Thinking back, our likely mistake was setting a date before even considering venue availability, especially since we were set on getting married in a particular church. We were so excited to be engaged, I guess we figured setting a date would be the best place to start! ~♡~

Monday, 22 August 2016

Honouring Wedding Traditions

Receiving line, first dance, bouquet toss, garter toss... the list goes on with these age old wedding reception traditions. Which ones do you choose to include in your big day? How do you justify eliminating something to those who have certain expectations?

Having been to several weddings, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what the typical wedding reception entails. Although I haven't necessarily been planning my wedding since childhood, attending weddings has helped me to better shape my thoughts and ideas regarding my own. I started planning my wedding by process of elimination. I knew exactly what I didn't want, and from there I was able to determine what I wanted.

Along the way, close friends and family members have repeatedly asked how the planning is going. Everyone I have talked to regarding planning seems to have formed an opinion on at least one aspect of the wedding reception. Being constantly bombarded by both questions and opinions can be both exhausting and frustrating. Regardless of these conversations, my fiance and I have stuck firm to our original plan. Footing most of the bill has definitely helped our case!

One wedding reception tradition that we are doing away with is the receiving line. I've been to weddings both with and without, and I don't think eliminating it will detract from our day. With an attendance of 150 people, we thought it would be too time consuming to try having a forced conversation with each of our guests. We decided we would rather walk around together and mingle informally throughout the evening rather than forcing our guests to stand in a line to have a word with us. (Especially when they are probably hungry, thirsty, and ready to sit down and rest their feet!)

The beautiful thing about your own wedding is that you can truly MAKE it your own. There is no rule saying you have to honour every wedding tradition. (Regardless of what anyone says!) Many people who attend a wedding have certain expectations; but ultimately, it's up to the bride and groom to decide what they want to include in their special celebration. ~♡~

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Catholic Marriage Preparation Course

As part of getting married in the Catholic Church, my fiance and I had to attend a mandatory marriage preparation course. When I first learned of this, I was a little apprehensive of what exactly this Catholic course might entail. Hearing stories of my parents' experience when they took the same course nearly 30 years ago didn't do much to put me at ease.

Although I was baptized, raised, and confirmed in the Catholic faith, I have never really been an active member of the parish community. I can't even really claim that I am a practicing Catholic. With a hectic work and travel schedule over the past several years, I rarely have the time, or one could argue I rarely MAKE the time, to attend weekly mass in my hometown. (I should point out that I have made the effort to attend mass more frequently as of late!) Needless to say, this marriage preparation course put on by prominent members of the parish community was sounding a lot more like an obligation than a blessing to me.

Before attending our course, Ken and myself had to complete a very detailed assessment/questionnaire about our ideas and values regarding certain topics such as finance, family life, self-esteem, communication, and conflict resolution. Contemplating some of the questions, I really hoped both of our answers would be kept private from the group. Luckily, our interpreted results were handed to us privately and we were able to discuss them as a couple. I found this part of the course very helpful. We were able to see which areas we agreed and disagreed on, and identify areas of opportunity for discussion. It was a great lead in to start the conversation between us about some aspects of marriage we may not have thought about discussing previously.

Throughout the weekend, we heard from a few couples on the various topics we covered. (Finance, intimacy, conflict resolution, etc) Each couple hosted a group discussion, giving real examples from their own marriage. The testimonies were honest, and at times emotional. The couples who hosted workshops shared both the good and the bad. Ken and I really appreciated the couples who volunteered their time to tell their unique and memorable stories during these workshops.

We were also pleasantly surprised to discover that the Catholic teachings throughout this course were quite a bit more liberal than either of us had expected. For example, the current teaching on family planning is to make informed, responsible and loving decisions with your partner. Although natural family planning is strongly encouraged throughout the course, this teaching now supports alternate methods that may arise from making these decisions together. Clearly, there are a number of scenarios (primarily health reasons) which would require a couple to make some tough decisions. We were glad to hear that any decision we made using this model would be supported by the Church.

At the beginning the course, we had wondered whether the materials covered would be preparing us for a Catholic marriage as seen through rose coloured glasses. In fact, we found it was quite the opposite. The facilitators did a great job covering a multitude of issues and scenarios that may crop up throughout the course of our future marriage. Overall, we both found the course useful as well as interesting. ~♡~

Sunday, 26 June 2016


As you probably know by now, I take great pride in my writing ability. As such, I took great care in designing and drafting our wedding invitations. The wedding invitation is probably one of the only documents created and prepared by you as a couple that the most people you both know will ever see.

The quality of the invitation absolutely sets the tone for your wedding day. If the wording on an invite is formal, guests will probably expect a pretty classy event. Sometimes, I find the use of an overly formal tone can come off as slightly pretentious. On the other hand, you don't want to be too informal in your language and tone. Everyone says your wedding day is one of the most important and happiest days of your life, so you definitely want to convey that through your word choice. There are many wedding invitation wording examples available online. (Google was certainly my best friend for this particular project!)

I can't stress this point enough - have multiple people proofread your invitation. Whether drafted yourself or professionally, there is always a potential for human error. Check spelling, grammar, dates, and times. Double and triple check, and then check it over once more!

These days, it is so easy to create your own invitations! For the DIY lovers, you can definitely find some great products to make your own by hand. With Pinterest, it is so easy to find inspiration and tips. There are also numerous websites where you can design your own, and easily match RSVP cards and envelopes.

I really enjoyed designing and ordering our invites through Vistaprint, and would recommend them to anyone! It was so easy to navigate the website and customize the designs, text, and colours. Additionally, I was able to easily order RSVP cards, envelopes, return envelopes, and stickers to match our invitation design.

Typically, a wedding invitation is a series of several cards providing information on event details, accommodation, food choices, and gift preferences. When it comes to providing information, consider including anything that the guest would absolutely need to know. For example, if you are requesting monetary gifts, you really don't have to say so. Not only do I think this is tacky, but most people assume that if the couple is not registered anywhere, they would prefer a cash gift. This is definitely information that can be eliminated from your invitation package.

Furthermore, including too much information on multiple cards/papers can be quite overwhelming for your guests. It is quite likely that some people will lose certain components of the invitation between the time you send them and the time of the big day. It is a good idea to condense this information as much as possible.

Being the economical bride that I am, I decided to get everything printed double sided. That way, there were only two card components to our invitation package. On the back of the actual invitation we detailed our registry information, and on the back of the RSVP card we listed the menu options. We received great feedback from our guests on the simple layout of our invitations.

Many couples are choosing to send out evites instead of a hard copy. I would highly encourage this. Although I wouldn't trade our invitations, I do wish we had decided to send them via email instead. Not only is this a great green choice, it is also cost effective and extremely efficient. With paying for both the invitation packages themselves and the postage to mail them, our invitations quickly became a larger expense than we had anticipated. Also, we had several of our invitations go missing in the mail system, which was extremely frustrating.

To streamline the whole RSVP process, having guests respond via email is definitely the best route. Although you will still have to follow up with those who have not responded, you won't be relying on them to do anything other than click through a few prompts. So far, following up on RSVPs has been the most agonizing and annoying part of planning our wedding. We definitely wish we had looked into online invitation options! ~♡~