April 19, 2010

And life is like a song

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


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.


March 2, 2010

Conversations with my mother

Posted in Attire, Reception, Vent at 9:09 am by Andrea

I love my mum. She and I are incredibly close. We share the same sense of humour (quirky), the same sense of style (classic elegance) and the same “shapely” thighs (you win some, you lose some). We also differ in some areas, one of these being our thresholds for stress. My mother has had more sleepless nights due to the wedding than I have (well, I haven’t had any…I excel at sleeping).

Actual phone conversation that occurred last night:

Mum: MOH’s mum [my mum’s best friend] called and MOH is going to order her dress tomorrow.
Me: Great!
Mum: Wait! Don’t you think there are some things you should do before she goes ahead and orders the dress?
Me: *thinking* Um….no.
Mum: Don’t you think you need to get a sample fabric swatch?
Me: No, I think I’m good to go.
Mum: But Andrea, how are you going to know what the fabric looks like in different light?
Me: Um, I’m not. I imagine it will just look like chocolate brown taffeta….
Mum: [increasingly frantic] And what about the tablecloths?!
Me: What about them?
Mum: Well don’t you want to get a fabric swatch and bring it to the decorator’s appointment on Saturday to make sure the bridesmaids’ dresses match the tablecloths?
Me: Why in heaven’s name would I want them to match the tablecloths?! No one’s going to check to make sure that they’re the same colour. I’m not planning to use the bridemaids as centerpieces. Why would they have to match?! I don’t understand!
Mum: [exasperated] Forget it. I’ll tell MOH’s mum that MOH can just order the dress. And I’ll tell her you don’t care about the tablecloths. She won’t be happy to hear that.

Can anyone explain this to me?! Why would I want everything to match EXACTLY?! I can see how it might have its uses if we needed to camouflage right into the tablecloths…but other than that…what would the utility be?!

[I apologize for the over-use of exclamation points above, but….seriously?]

In the words of the sulla tips (wise words I always try to heed while planning the wedding), “[N]obody ever leaves a wedding saying, “Yeah, it was soooo great! The mother of the groom’s dress was the SAME EXACT SHADE as the bridesmaids’ shoes and the writing on the matchbooks!” People leave a wedding thinking it was great because it felt great – because the bride and groom were in love and happy, and the party felt appropriately joyous, even if there’s not a single Martha Stewart-ish detail anywhere in sight.”

That is all.

February 25, 2010

The solidity of life

Posted in Reception at 5:06 pm by Andrea

“Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy.” – Phyllis McGinley

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m sure we all learned early on that compromise is the stuff that relationships are made of. This isn’t exactly a revelation. I was definitely reminded of this fact though last night when a certain nasty topic reared its ugly head again: the first dance song.

Long have I hoped that we would use one of my favourite songs, Lost Together, by Canadian band Blue Rodeo for our first dance. The lyrics just seem so…us *swoon*.

Give it a listen:

So shortly after we started all this wedding planning rigmarole, The Guy, out of nowhere, decided that ALL the reception music needed to be his domain (His words, “I don’t want all the music at the reception to be Norah Jones!” My response: “The only Norah Jones music we have is the music YOU downloaded on YOUR computer!” Hilarious!). I was cool with that, thinking I’d still get to collaborate a little. Then he went further and said, no, in fact, he wanted to be 100% in charge of it because I was in charge of everything else. HA! Yes, I’m in charge of pretty much everything else, but only because he said, up front, “I want you to be in charge of everything.”

You can imagine the eye-rolling that ensued after he raised that bone of contention.

So, dear The Guy, what first song then would you like? He said he had three in mind, but he only told me two before the whole conversation devolved into something that wasn’t going anywhere.

Here were his two choices:

Read My Mind, The Killers

Rebellion (Lies), The Arcade Fire

Le sigh.

While I totally appreciated The Guy’s sentiment (both these songs have special meaning for us in the context of our relationship) and understood where he was coming from (he clearly wanted to use a song with which we had some history), I really didn’t want the lyrics of my first dance song to include, “People say that you’ll die/Faster than without water/But we know it’s just a lie/Scare you son, scare your daughter.” Not to mention neither song has a tempo conducive to a slow dance. Gah!

But. Well. Here’s the compromise part:

Last night we were discussing the ceremony. And forever and ever I’ve dreamed of including the Blessing of the Hands in our ceremony. I finally showed it to The Guy. He read it. And he didn’t like it! He thought it was “too much.” (I hastened to point out that a wedding ceremony is SUPPOSED to be sentimental)

So, dear readers, I made a compromise that I may come to regret: I traded any say in the first dance song for the right to include the Blessing of the Hands in our ceremony!

In fact, I even told The Guy to keep the first dance song a secret and surprise me at the reception. His response? “I chose a good ring, right? So I’ll choose a good song.” Um, right, prior evidence to the contrary (The Killers and The Arcade Fire songs) notwithstanding. My ring is lovely though….so maybe he has a point?

If not, I’m thinking it will at least be worth a laugh.

November 16, 2009

“We’re not having that”

Posted in General wedding, Planning, Reception, Tacky alert! at 7:44 pm by Andrea

So goes the motto of our wedding. Romantic, isn’t it?!

Here’s the thing: our number one goal with our wedding is to pull together an event that is representative of us as a couple. And what we’ve discovered is that “us as a couple” seems to have less in common with “cookie cutter wedding” than we thought. Let’s be clear: our wedding isn’t some revolutionary affair comprised of interpretive dances and mime performances or anything that “out there”; in fact, on the surface, it’s thoroughly traditional: church ceremony, country club reception, dinner, dancing, rinse, repeat. But as we’ve gotten more into the planning process I’ve discovered that a lot of the traditional wedding customs just aren’t our bag.


No thank you.


We’re not having that #1: Head table. No, we aren’t having a head table. We will sit at a round table like everyone else. We will sit with some of our wedding party, and we will ensure that our wedding party gets to sit with their spouses. Those long, rectangular head tables remind me of, I don’t know, Medieval Times or something. And why would I not want to be able to look at all my nearest and dearest? And furthermore, why would I want to separate them from their partners, all for the sake of being on display? Yeah, not us. We’re not having it.


Undeniably pretty, but does not maximize flavour options!


We’re not having that #2: Wedding cake. Don’t worry! There will be cake! To not have cake would be shameful and saddening (aside: I LOVE cake and The Guy learned very early in our relationship that we are never, ever to leave an event until cake has been served. Cake is sacrosanct), but we are not having a wedding cake of many tiers. I’m planning on having a cake buffet of sorts, which will involve different cakes of different flavours on cake stands of varying heights and designs. In my mind it is beautiful. Why have a couple flavours of cake when you could have MANY flavours of cake? I’m just sayin’…


Fun? Not so much when you're being singled out for being single.



This requires no explanation.


We’re not having that #3: Bouquet/garter toss. Nor are we substituting anything in their place (like an anniversary dance or lottery ticket toss). These puppies are 100% off the program. That is all I have to say about that.


Just not us.


We’re not having that #4: Videographer. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the incredible, cinematic work that some videographers do. What don’t I love? The price tag. If it’s something that is totally you and means a lot, then yes, go for it. I just can’t justify spending as much on a videographer as I will on my photographer. And, again, many of the videos I’ve perused online have been nothing short of artful, but some of them border on self-indulgent and just kind of ridiculous, and that’s not us. Instead, I have a cousin who coordinates digital/video exhibits for a major museum, and I will ask if he can video the ceremony and the speeches. No fancy effects or music, just the actual moments captured for posterity.

kissing game

Um, no.


We’re not having that #5: A stupid kissing game. So, here’s what clinched this one for us: last year we were at a wedding at which they had taken the names of all the couples in attendance and put them into a hat. Then, over the course of the night, they would draw couples’ names and that couple would have to kiss as provocatively as possible,and the bride and groom would have the imitate it. This caused me to break out into a sweat and desperately want to flee to the bathroom every time they were going to call a new name. Luckily, we dodged that bullet, but it made me incredibly uncomfortable. We decided that night that at our wedding we won’t kiss for clinking glasses, or songs with the word love and certainly not for the sake of humiliating our guests. At our reception, if you want us to kiss, you can come up to the podium and tell a story (nice, funny, silly, whatever) about The Guy and me.

So what ARE we having? More on our priorities and splurges in a coming post.

Are there any traditions that you’re kiboshing at your wedding?

October 26, 2009

Venue? Check!

Posted in Planning, Reception at 5:42 pm by Andrea

For the last, oh, long time, when I’ve thought about my wedding I’ve thought “intimate,” “not too big,” “just our closest friends and family members,” “no more than 125 people.”  Right. Not so much.

So here’s the deal: I have four parents. Most people have two. Not this lucky ducky! Yes, four parents, and with four parents come four families. Did I mention that one of those four families includes six step-siblings, all of whom have partners and kids? The Guy is one of four children and all his three sisters have spouses and kids as well. You see where this is going, right? 125 just wasn’t going to cut it. Ask me right now where our guest list currently stands. Go ahead, ask. One hundred and ninety-two. 192! GAH! This is truly what we get when we invite only our closest family members and friends. Nothing superfluous.

So, venue hunting was limited by that.

Venue hunting was also limited by the fact that we’re picky. We like nice things. We like things that are reflective of us. We do not like banquet halls. They just aren’t what we had in mind. Way to have a million criteria, huh?

Our first choice was the lovely Inn on the Twenty, which would be coupled with a ceremony at the Cave Spring Vineyard.

Inn on the Twenty has a very pretty dining space that overlooks beautiful trees, which would have been perfect for our fall wedding:



The ceremony area in the vineyard looks STUNNING, and so very us:



So, you can imagine how we felt when we discovered that the reception space holds a maximum of 140 guest. Cross that one off the list (with a sigh).

We searched long and hard. I called a bunch of other vineyards in wine country, and no luck. Most other places I called (that I was only lukewarm on to begin with) were already booked.

We visited two other venues, but I already knew which one I wanted.

Venue 1: Copetown Woods Golf and Country Club



It was very nice, but it just wasn’t us. It had a bit of a country aesthetic, whereas we’re more modern/elegant. It also had the dance floor in the same room as the meal, which would have required some tables to be placed on the dance floor and then moved later in the evening, and that was something that we’d wanted to avoid.

Venue 2: Hamilton Golf and Country Club



HGCC is the club at which my stepdad has been a member for as long as I can remember. We’ve been going there for family dinners my whole life. My Matron of Honour and I, along with our mums, attended countless Christmas parties there when we were kids and we have tons of photos of us standing in front of the massive Christmas tree they place inside the Great Hall every holiday season. All that to say, this place is special to me and full of memories. It also just underwent a huge renovation, so is a perfect mix of modern and elegant — exactly the look we were hoping for. So, it’s booked!

Our dinner will be held in the dining area, and there’s a separate room (the Great Hall) for cocktails and, later on in the evening, dancing and the dessert table. We couldn’t be happier with our choice and can’t wait to attend the tasting!

Just to give you an idea of the room in which our dinner will be held:



The space is on the second floor, so has a view from above. There are three walls of floor to ceiling windows — should make for spectacular scenery for our October wedding!