July 10, 2010

Missing in action: one bride

Posted in General wedding, Planning at 9:48 am by Andrea

So, um, hi. Remember me? No? I know, I’ve been totally delinquent. Terrible bridal blogger.

But I’m back – for serious!

So why the hiatus? Well, if I were to be a bit deceitful, I would tell you that I’ve been very busy with work (true) and that I’ve been out-of-town quite a bit (also true) and just haven’t had the time to blog (not entirely true). To be completely honest though, I went through a little phase where I just couldn’t justify spending all the time and energy that goes into writing a blog (despite the fact that I truly do enjoy it) that centred entirely on one day. One. Single. Day.

I know it’s an important day, actually, it’s probably the most important day to date in my life, but it took a little while of sitting and thinking to come to the conclusion that it is okay to spend time focusing on the wedding. Focusing on the wedding does not, necessarily, equate to not spending time thinking about the marriage.

So I’m back. I’m back to thinking about table numbers, pew decorations and bustles, centrepieces, photo booths and linens. And I finally understand that just because I take a little time out of every day to focus on these things and cross little details off my to do list, doesn’t mean that our marriage will be any less strong.

April 19, 2010

And life is like a song

Posted in Planning, Reception at 9:37 am by Andrea

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Awhile ago, The Guy and I reached a compromise wherein I got to include the “Blessing of the Hands” in our ceremony so long as he got to choose our first dance song. I have to say, in all honesty, that relinquishing any control over the first dance song was actually strangely liberating. I felt that, regardless of what The Guy chose, no matter how un-slow the tempo and inappropriate the subject matter (he seemed to have a thing for songs about death), it would be good because it would be ours. Even if it was all wrong, it would at least make me laugh. And if it was right then, well, it would probably make me cry – the good kind of tears.

And right it is. So very right.

The plan was for the chosen song to be kept a secret until we stepped onto the dance floor on the big day. But on Saturday we were driving home from Toronto, having chosen our formal china and me having picked up my dress (more on that later), feeling blissfully wedding-y and The Guy mentioned that he’d chosen the song. I knew he’d been thinking about it, as last week I came home and found he had his iTunes open, and my iPod on our docking station. Evidently, he’d been working feverishly to find the right song.

Our conversation on Saturday went something like this:

The Guy: You’re going to like the song I chose. I did a good job.

Me: I’m sure I will. It will be a wonderful surprise on the day of the wedding. Is it one of the songs that you’d mentioned before?

The Guy: No. I chose an older song.

Me: *smiling* That’s good. We should have something classic, that’s our style.

The Guy: I can tell you what it is.

Me: No, you don’t have to. I like surprises.

The Guy: No, it’s okay. It’s “At Last” by Etta James.

Me: *welling up*

Now, I know that At Last has become a bit of a first dance standard these last couple years. But The Guy doesn’t know that. He doesn’t read wedding blogs or participate in online wedding planning communities. All he knows is that this is a classic song about two people finding their counterparts. About life being better with that person around. Colours brighter. Music more joyful. The happy days happier. The sad days more hopeful. A dream that I can call my own.

And when he hears those lyrics he thinks of me, of us. That is perfect. And that is all that matters.

April 15, 2010

The DIY project that wasn’t (also: Why I don’t DIY)

Posted in Ceremony, Flowers, Planning at 5:13 pm by Andrea

Back in December, right around the same time I found this pretty little number, actually that same weekend, I decided to start my first DIY project. The plan: to make tissue paper pomanders to line the aisle in the church. They looked so pretty when other people did them and seemed like a great place to save some funds.

Pretty, no?

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The problem is this: I forgot that neither me nor anyone else in my family is crafty. And not only are we not crafty, we have no interest in being crafty. Every time I walk into Michael’s (and by every time I mean once every five years) I get overwhelmed and have to leave because, other than the glue guns, I have no idea what any of the stuff is and I start to panic that I’m supposed to know what to do with all of it!. Make my own shower gel? No thank you! So that was a minor oversight.

Luckily, my mum’s best friend (AKA my MOH’s mum) happens to be a crafty genius. We invited her over under the guise of having tea and then we ambushed her with foam balls and floral wire and sheet after sheet of tissue paper. HA! She was more than happy to oblige, so we got to work.

Our one crafty participant demonstrating her mad pomander-making skillz.

Me pretending to enjoy crafting in order to keep team morale high.

My mum and I with looks of extreme concentration on our faces.

(Morale is dropping rapidly)

So we cut and attached wire and fluffed out tissue paper flowers and two hours later we ended up with a partially finished pomander. Three people. Two hours. Partially finished. Also, it was bigger than my head. And then we quit for the night.

See? For reals. Ridiculously gigantic.

In the months that followed our forays into craftiness, I started receiving calls and emails from my mother that said things like, “I found a vendor on the weekend who sells pew bows. Have you thought about those?” and “When are you going to take all these foam balls and tissue paper out of my laundry room?”

Then, in early March, we went to meet one of our potential florists. The pomanders came up in passing and she pretty much put the kibosh on them. She told us that her contract stated that no other floral decor was to be used, as she didn’t want people to think that tacky DIY projects (my words, not hers, she was much more diplomatic) were her work. So she included pew decor in her floral quote. My mum was ALL over it. She’d been looking for an out for months, and if it meant paying an additional $400.00 for pew decor, she was ready to pay cash on the spot to put an end to her craft-induced agony.

And that is why we won’t be having any tissue paper pomanders, or really any DIY components to the wedding. Am I jealous of people who can DIY? You betcha. Am I planning to follow in their footsteps? Absolutely not! My sanity is worth far too much to me.

So, if you know anyone who needs a stupidly large, half-finished tissue paper pomander, be sure to let me know.

March 28, 2010

How the heck do I choose a florist 101

Posted in Flowers, General wedding, Planning at 11:04 am by Andrea

Okay, so I have to admit I’m not exactly an expert in choosing a wedding florist. I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever had to plan a wedding before, and because of that, I found choosing a florist to be one of the more bewildering tasks. I figured I might not be the only one who felt that way, so I thought I’d pass along some of the tips I learned along the way.

(1) Collect inspiration. Lots of it.

I started this uber-early, as in, a long time before The Guy proposed. I have an embarrassing, secret folder called “Event Inspiration”(because I was too full of shame to actually call it what it was: Wedding Inspiration) that is full of photos I’ve been collecting for *coughtwoyearscough*. I followed wedding and event planning blogs, and visited sites like The Knot and Weddingbee to collect photos.


Evidently I thought we were going to have a spring wedding, what with all the tulips and peonies. Although it turns out that’s not the case, Collecting inspiration photos, regardless of the flowers used in them, still gave me an idea of the aesthetic I was looking for and, perhaps more importantly, the aesthetic I wasn’t looking for.

(Note: My apologies, but I collected the above photos so long ago that I don’t have their sources)

(2) Research, research, research.

You may recall that I’m allegedly quite resourceful! So once I knew the look I was going for, I started researching florists within the vicinity of our wedding location. I went to a bridal show and collected cards of those I liked, I read local vendor reviews and websites and I ultimately narrowed my list down to two vendors: Vintage Design Co. and My Bouquet, both based in the Niagara region of Ontario.

Some examples of Jennifer’s work (Vintage Design Co.):

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Some examples of Pauline’s work (My Bouquet):

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(3) Meet with the candidates. Bring any and all information that you can.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, make appointments to meet with your top candidates. I was worried that I was going to be at a disadvantage because I don’t really know much about flowers. It turned out that that was totally fine. What really helped though was giving the florists and idea of the aesthetic we wanted. Bring photos of your dress and copies of your inspiration board if you’ve made one. Make sure you zero in on the key words (for us: tailored, modern, clean lines, no spray roses, no calla lilies, nothing too “organic” looking). From there, the florists should be able to get an idea of the flowers that will work for you (for us: garden roses, ranunculus, lysianthus, hydrangeas).

Both of the florists we visited had tons of photos of their work so we were able to tell them what we liked and disliked.

(4) Don’t be afraid to be honest.

For example, at Vintage Design Co., I saw some beautiful birch bark candle holders. While trying to describe the overall look of our wedding I said, “Those birch bark candle holders are beautiful, but they aren’t our style. We don’t want anything that organic.”

(5) Get quotes from all your candidates. Compare. Contrast.

We got quotes from both Pauline and Jennifer. We ended up going back to Pauline and asking her to modify her quote so that it included all the same components as Jennifer’s, as we wanted to make sure we were comparing apples with apples.

(6) Think long and hard.

This was the toughest one for us. After meeting with both florists we were stumped. They both did beautiful work. They both seemed to grasp the look we were going for. We changed our minds several times.

The final decision? Pauline at My Bouquet. We ultimately decided that Pauline’s aesthetic was just that little bit closer to what we were looking for. So, in the end it all came down to staying true to our vision. Making sure we stayed organized and went into the appointments with a clear idea of what we were looking for made the process that much easier though.

I would say to date this was the most difficult wedding-related decision we had to make, but I’m confident we made the right decision for us.

Good luck in your search for the perfect florist for you!

March 24, 2010

What’s in a date?

Posted in General wedding, Planning at 9:47 am by Andrea

We knew we wanted to get married in the fall. In fact, moments after proposing The Guy told me that he thought we should have a fall wedding (he also thrust a whole bunch of diamond-related information and a GIA report in my lap, which I told him, through tears, that I really couldn’t process at that exact moment!). His logic? “If I’m wearing a tux I don’t want to be sweating the whole time.” Leave it to guys to think pragmatically. I, on the other hand, was thinking about the pretty leaves, I mean, obviously, right?

So, the fall it was.

There was really only one venue we were truly interested in that could actually accommodate the 200-ish people we anticipated would be there. They only had a couple dates available for fall 2010: Canadian Thanksgiving (the weekend of October 9) or October 23. We didn’t want to cut into anyone’s turkey eating, so we chose the latter. Done.

While we were still mulling over the available dates, I had a phone conversation with my mum that went something like this (have you gotten the idea yet that my mum and I have a lot of phone conversations?):

Mum: So when I flipped the calendar to October 2010 I was praying October 23 wasn’t a Saturday. But it is.

Andrea: So? What’s the big deal with October 23?

Mum: That’s the day your father and I got married. [They divorced when I was a baby]

Andrea: Oh. Crap. *laughter*

Mum: *laughter* Are you sure you want to get married that day?

Andrea: *thinking* Well, 23 has actually been a good number for The Guy and me. We met when I was 23. The home we built together has 23 in its address. I think we’re okay with it. We’re going to turn it into a good day.

Mum: Okay, but don’t tell your father. He may not think it’s a funny as we do.

My father actually figured it out for himself. And he did find it rather hilarious. He suggested that he and my mum could have an anniversary dance in celebration of what would have been their 39th wedding anniversary!

So, we ran with it and we’re getting married on October 23 (seven months from yesterday!). We decided to not get caught up in superstition, but rather to make the date one that has special meaning for us, regardless of what it means for anyone else in our family.

Does your wedding date have any significance to you or your family?

February 5, 2010

Critical Care

Posted in Planning at 4:03 pm by Andrea

When I first graduated from grad school about four years ago, I got a job in Toronto with a well-known non-profit. I handled a lot of their internal and external communications: writing employee memos, handling media calls, organizing media events etc. Since a lot of this work was extremely deadline driven, my boss tried to make sure that we had plans in place ahead of time. One day she came into my office and told me I needed to, “get a critical path together right away!” Being the green, eager-to-please new grad that I was, I confidently said, “Sure thing!” My boss was barely out of sight when I picked up my phone and called my then coworker (and now super cool friend) and in a panicked voice asked, “What is a critical path?!” Turns out she didn’t know either. Ultimately Google provided me with the answer and all was once again right with the world.

A Critical Path is basically a detailed plan. You look at the project you have ahead of you (like, um, I don’t know, a wedding?!) and work backwards to determine all the steps that need to occur between the now and the end of the project. Then you set deadlines for every single task, and these deadlines ensure that tasks gets completed in the correct order and that, ultimately, if you follow the critical path, you will have your project/event/deliverables all ready at the right time. You know, all your ducks in that proverbial row.

So, ever since that fateful day in the summer of 2006, I have treated critical paths as though they are my best friend. I use them for every project and mention my love of them in every job interview. So, obviously, I needed me some wedding critical path action.

So, yesterday, I decided to make use of my sick day to get to work on the wedding critical path on which I’d been procrastinating.

Here’s what it looks like:

That is merely the beginning portion. I divided it into several categories:

  • General
  • Ceremony
  • Reception
  • Decor
  • Attire
  • Flowers
  • Paper
  • Logistics
  • Gifts
  • Beauty
  • Photography
  • Miscellaneous

In total there are 196 items on my critical path (and I’m sure I will add a few more that I’ve forgotten). They range from the most basic (e.g. wrap Bridal Party gifts; make sure there are pens to go with the guest book; ensure Bridal Party spouses have transportation) to the more serious stuff (e.g. write vows; finalize reception seating plan; pay outstanding reception balance). It feels glorious to have it all on paper (er, virtual paper) now, rather than rolling around in my head and keeping me awake at night.

How are you keeping organized for your wedding? I rely on Excel, but I know there are tons of other methods out there too: binders, filing systems, organized chaos(!) etc.

February 4, 2010

Inspiration Board

Posted in General wedding, Planning at 5:36 pm by Andrea

I met with a potential florist on the weekend (more on that later!), and I decided on Friday that I should pull together an inspiration board to provide an idea of the overall feel we want our little (okay, not so little) shindig to have. The fact that I had to blur the names on our STDs pains me to no end, but try to look past that.


I think the board does a good job of accurately conveying the elegant look we are going for in our palette of browns and apple greens. It also really helped me organize my thoughts — I had so many ideas flying around in my head and it was great to see them all documented in pictures — definitely a useful brain dump!

Last week was incredibly productive wedding-wise. I sent my invitation text and inspiration photos off to Kristin at Twin Ravens Press, I chose the bridesmaids’ dresses, we found and booked a DJ, finalized the photobooth, met with the coordinator at our reception venue and met with Pauline at My Bouquet. Whew! I was totally exhausted and now, not surprisingly have come down with a cold (and home sick today…trying madly to blog, keep up with work emails and save time to cuddle with my kitty!). Cold notwithstanding, it was great to cross so many things off the wedding to do list, and for now I think we’re sitting pretty.

Are you on track with your planning? How do you keep yourself organized? (I’m a big fan of Excel spreadsheets, in fact, I think my obsession might be a little out of control!).

Happy planning!

January 18, 2010

Something blue

Posted in Attire, Planning at 6:23 pm by Andrea

Life has been busy and wedding planning has been pushed a little bit to the side. Nonetheless, decisions do continue to be made. I’m going to write posts on those in the coming days. Stay tuned in the coming days to hear more about honeymoon plans, how I gave into one of the biggest current wedding trends and my mother’s random, wedding-related panic attacks!

For now though, let’s talk about that thing that us girls can never get enough of. The topic that we just can’t chase out of our minds. That ridiculous temptation that haunts us throughout the day. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about shoes.

My shoes will be my something blue. Do not get me started on my mother’s reaction to this not so revolutionary idea. Colourful shoes are all the rage, right? All of us who frequent wedding sites and blogs know that to be the case. My mother, shockingly enough, does not follow said sites. So when I broke the news to her she kind of flipped. It was very amusing. “What do you mean you want blue shoes?! How can you have blue shoes? Your dress is ivory. I don’t understand!” After explanation about the trend and the fact that no one actually sees your shoes (not to mention that blue shoes are about 10,000 times more rewearable than something in ivory satin) she has come around. She still thinks I’m mildly insane though.

So, I’ve been browsing for shoes for a little while. I had a very specific shade of blue in mind (something teal-ish) and I need a fairly low heel height. I’m 5’10” and, as much as I really do enjoy being tall, with 4″ heels I would be somewhat Amazonian…and The Guy is only 5’11”. I don’t mind being a little taller than him, but there’s no need to tower! But yes, all that to say that my criteria make the search for the perfect shoe a little tricky.

I found the following back in December and have an exclamatory note about it in my Delicious bookmarks:

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Obviously the idea with the above was to have them dyed, but that seemed a little daunting in terms of ensuring they came out the correct colour.

So last night I was tooling around on endless.com and came across the following two shoes:

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Obviously the above are more navy than teal, but I really do heart them and think navy could look lovely with my classic dress (navy being a totally classic colour, no? Well, except when it’s dowdy, but these don’t look dowdy). The trouble is, I can’t decide between the two styles. I think they both look lovely and classic. Yesterday I was totally sold on navy shoe #1, but today I’m leaning toward navy shoe number two.

What say you?

And, what’s your something blue?

December 16, 2009

Found:

Posted in Attire, Planning at 5:33 pm by Andrea

One wedding dress.

Colour: Ivory

Fabric: Satin

Feeling: Perfection

Our dress hunt began in earnest on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. when I arrived at Ritché for my appointment. My consultant, Sonya, chatted with me and got a good idea of what I was looking for (buzz words “elegant,” “classic,” “not too much embellishment,”) and headed off to the stock room (with my list of dress styles in hand) to pull some gowns.

She came back with a few gowns from my list, as well as a few of her own picks.

I was very happy that Ritche was cool with us taking photos. We only took photos of those dresses that were somewhat interesting.

I present you with a random smattering of the rejects:

Maggie Sottero – Janelle

Pronovias – Genova

Enzoani – Not sure of style name

Turns out nothing even came close to comparing to the first dress I tried on (not pictured above…wait for it).

We left Ritche, went downtown, grabbed some lunch at Cafe Nervosa (my close friend and BM Emily joined us):

I ate a whole thin-crust pizza. Who knew that trying on dresses caused so much hunger?!

We thought that it would be great to fit in one more store in the afternoon so that Em could see me in some dresses, and also so that I could try some totally “out there” things on to make sure that the dress I LOVED was the right one. Didn’t want to leave any stones unturned. (I should note that after we left Ritche I spent about 98% of my time talking about how much I loved dress number 1. How stunning it was. How it hugged me in all the right places. How I LOVED the heavy fabric. How The Guy would like the cleavage. Etc. Etc. You could say I was a little annoying).

So we headed down to Spadina and found a shop where we didn’t need an appointment. Let me tell you, it was nothing fancy! The fitting rooms were small and basically created out of bright pink shower curtains. But the store seemed to carry a lot of nice lines. When we walked in we saw “my” dress on a mannequin. We asked the sales associate to take it off the mannequin so that I could try it on (wanted Emily to see it).

I tried on a HUGE variety of dresses at store #2. A STUNNING Pronovias mermaid dress (remember how I said I thought mermaids would looks horrible on me? Yeah, I was wrong). It didn’t feel “wedding-ish” though. I think I would wear it on the red carpet at the Oscars though! I tried on ball gowns and froofy gowns that looked like they were made of meringue. I even tried on a Paloma Blanca number that looked like it was better fit for someone attending a ball at the White House (I’m sure it would be very lovely on a lot of people — on me it was matronly).

And then, after rejecting all of the above, they brought out “my” dress. I put it on and everyone — including the sales associate — couldn’t stop talking about how perfectly it suited me. So at that point I was 99% decided that it was the one.

I was standing on the pedestal in front of one of those giant mirrors and then, all of the sudden, the radio that had been playing top 40 music, started playing Ave Maria. My mum and I instantly burst into tears and couldn’t even talk. It was my grandma’s favourite song. Just as we pulled ourselves together, an old version of Silent Night, my grandma’s favourite Christmas song, came on. We knew immediately that it was the dress. As my mum said, “Grandma walked into the room.”

We went back to Ritche on Monday and bought “the one.”

I present to you….my wedding gown!:

December 11, 2009

And so the search begins…

Posted in Attire, Planning at 7:23 pm by Andrea

Tomorrow I will set out on the odyssey that so many brides before me have attempted: the search for the dress.

Am I excited? Absolutely! Do I know what I want? Not entirely. Do I know what I don’t want? Without a doubt!

Let’s start with the stats: I am 5’10”, a street size 10 and have the quintessential hourglass figure.

Ideas of what I like: lace, gathering, pleating, v-necks, minimal embellishment, slim a-line silhouettes.

Ideas of what I dislike: mermaid dresses, ball gowns, excessive poofiness, pick-ups, too much beading, anything from this line, which frankly scares the bejesus out of me (anyone who’s read bridal magazines know exactly what I’m talking about, right?!)!

Having said all of that, I’m very much open to trying a variety of gowns on this weekend, because you just never know. I do, however, want to avoid anything tight around the hip/thigh region (hence my dislike for mermaid gowns) as that is definitely my “problem area.”

My style is classic and elegant, with a bit of a modern edge. There are a number of dresses I’ve bookmarked and am eager to try on. My absolute favourite at this point is the Pronovias Goleta:

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One of my friends took one look at the above dress and instantly proclaimed it “SO you!” So, it will be interesting to see how it actually looks on my frame.

The others that I’m hoping to try on, in no particular order:

Maggie Sottero, Karena Royale

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Maggie Sottero, Janelle

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Allure, C153

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Pronovias, Menta

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Pronovias, Medina

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Pronovias, Respiro

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It will be interesting to see when I return from my shopping outings if I stuck to these sorts of looks or got my head turned from something entirely different.

Stay tuned to hear the rest of the story!

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