Monday, May 31, 2010

Your eyes lit up the room when I gave you flowers.

Next up on my list of vendor reviews - our florist, otherwise known as The Flowerbox!

Wedding planning and sticker shock are like best buds. Where one goes, the other is likely to follow. Kind of like that annoying younger sibling that insisted on tagging along while you and your 7th grade BFF spied on your 18 year old neighbour, aka beau-hunk extraordinaire. I'm kidding, I'm kidding - I love my little brother (now)!

Anyways, where I'm going with this is that I thought I was prepared for the sticker shock of wedding planning. And for the most part, I really was. I didn't bat an eye at the estimated cost of photography, invitations, catering, formal wear, party rentals, limousines - none of it surprised me.

That is, until I started researching the cost of flowers. My newly engaged self (aka pre floral research) happily thumbed through magazine after magazine of the most gorgeous floral designs. So much inspiration to be found, and oh the spectacular things that could be done with flowers. And sure there are "expensive flowers" but I didn't need those! Heck - just look at what people are doing with carnations these days! Right?

Hah! Consider me shocked. Now, I must point out that I understand the reason behind the cost of flowers, I really do. But I guess I never truly *thought* about the cost of florals until I started googling. Oh I googled alright, and gaggled and gurgled. Gah. Unfortunately, there wasn't room in our budget for big, lush, fancy flowers designs. And so it came to pass that our centrepieces would be DIY potted florals and ferns. I even considered arranging the bouquets and boutonnieres myself - until my bridesmaids lovingly shoved nudged me back from the brink of "DIY on your wedding day will make you insane" insanity.
Thus, it was with an embarrassingly (at least to my mind) meagre budget that I called to set up appointments with 3 different florists in Vancouver. And so, armed with all the clipped out, printed off, and dog earred inspirational photos of wild and woodsy floral designs, I carefully explained my ideas to each of the florists in turn.

The first florist was very sweet, albeit a wee bit scatterbrained. She was fairly new to the business, and although she had grand ideas, her proposal came in at more than double the budget I had given her. Strike One.

The second florist had been in the biz for a long time, and wasn't shy to admit it. Although her proposal was more in keeping with my modest budget, she just didn't *get* my ideas. When I showed her the photos of the wild looking bouquets, she said "oh yes, we can do something like that, only less messy and wild - you don't want it looking like that". Um what? Were you not just listening to me?!? Did I not just say that's exactly what I wanted? Aaaaand Strike Two.

By this point, I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to get the look I wanted for the price I could afford. And then I met with Sacha Thompson from The Flowerbox She chatted with me about my ideas, looked at my (piles of) pictures, and quickly put my worries to rest. She would use local, in season greenery and flowers. She'd make sure to incorporate my colours, and she'd do it at a price that would fit my budget.


Without further ado - check out her amazing work!

(All photos taken by the amazing Gracci and Rico Pelaez)

Aren't they gorgeous? They were exactly what I wanted. Woodsy, textured, green, wild, yellow. I'm pretty sure the first thing that came out of my mouth when I saw them was [high pitched girly squeal] ahmaigad they're peeeeeeeeeeeeeerfect [/high pitched girly squeal]

A+++++ for The Flowerbox. I would work with them again in a heartbeat. Half a heart beat even!

PS. Bonus points for anyone who knows the song that this blog title refers to!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

We're Glossy!

Considering all the money I've spent on glossy wedding magazines, its very surreal knowing that our wedding is now featured in one of them! I know I hinted at the possibility before, but with the issue out on the stands, I can now confirm that we are indeed featured in the Spring/Summer 2010 edition of Real Weddings Magazine (local Vancouver wedding magazine)!

Needless to say, I was thrilled. All our blood, sweat, and tears (no exaggeration - all three occurred during the planning process) finally paid off. Yes, I know what you're thinking. Really? Did you really do all that work to get yourself featured in a wedding magazine? Wasn't the beautiful wedding day itself pay off enough? Well of course it was. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

But, really, let's be honest. Those details? You know the ones. The details that you slaved night and day over? Well, I hate to break it to you, but you may be horrified to discover that they can go overlooked on the big day (yes ladies it's true). So who is it that notices the details? Let's see, how about event planners, magazine editors, photographers, and of course the brides themselves. Scanning the magazines, blogs, and websites for inspiration. Oooing and aaaaaahing over each and every delicious detail. That's who notices. And now that many of the details of our wedding are laid out on two gloriously glossy pages of Real Weddings Magazine, I must admit, it feels goooooooooooooood.

And of course - kudos to our photographers - Rico and Gracci Pelaez! Without their amazing photography, we would never have been selected. I can't say enough good things about their work. Instead - you should just visit their blog and see for yourself.

Real Weddings doesn't have their current issue online yet. As soon as they do - I'll link to it ;) In the meantime - this is what the cover looks like! They chose some really nice colours to go with this issue don't you think? heh

And now - on to vendor reviews with plenty of photos!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Diamond Alumni Centre - Can't Get Much Better!

Where to begin? Let's see - how about WOW.

Simply put - our experience with the Diamond Alumni Centre was nothing short of amazing.

From the remarkable price, to the amazing food to the beautiful view and the courteous staff - there is nothing I can find fault with. Vivian Tan, the coordinator of the venue, was always quick to answer my (many) emails. Regardless of whether it was a year out or two weeks out from our wedding, she was there with an answer to my questions. She was flexible and accommodating, making time to see us when we popped in (on 3 different occasions) before the wedding, and allowing us to store our decor in the backroom the day before and the day after the wedding (as we were short on set up /strike down time)!

Let's see, what else....oh yes the FOOD! We decided to go with the buffet option rather than a seated dinner. Now I know when one hears buffet they worry that the food will be overcooked, dried out, and cold, but folks, I'm here to set you straight. Our buffet food was hot, moist, and taaaaaaaasty! I had more than one person comment on how delicious the food was, and although I didn't get a chance to try everything, I can tell you that what I did try was superb! The buffet option we went with was called Centennial Park and included choice of 4 reception style platters, choice of hors d'oeurves, fresh rolls, various types of salads, choice of 2 entrees, a chef attended carving station, potato, rice, and veggie sides, a dessert selection and of course coffee and tea to top the night off!

We really wanted an open bar at the wedding, but were a bit worried about breaking the bank budget with premium liquors and drinks. When we mentioned our concerns to Vivian, she encouraged us to choose the liquors covered by the host bar, and allow the guests to pay for anything above and beyond our choices. Also, we were able to limit the number of wine bottles served with dinner, and were NOT required to pay for any bottle left unopened. Again - such flexibility!

The staff were courteous and polite during our ceremony and reception. Any questions or concerns were answered right away. The evening manager allowed my parents to pick up the decor the next day (instead of trucking it all home at 1am in the morning), and the friendly bartender offered us a bottle of wine to take home to celebrate our first night as a married couple!

The room itself is beautiful even without any decor! The palette is neutral and works with most colour schemes. The main room is large and open with glass windows for a back wall, high wood-beamed ceilings, a cozy fireplace, a dance floor, two open air patios and a stately wooden bar. We had 65 people attend our wedding, so we decided to have both the ceremony and reception in the large main room, but if your wedding is larger, they have a second room downstairs where you can have the ceremony if you want everything in one location.

Originally, we were wondering how to add lighting to the wooden beams, but were thrilled to discover the twinkle lights already wrapped around each one! That saved us so much time, and created such a lovely glowing backdrop for pictures. And of course, the other gorgeous backdrop is the spectacular view of the north shore mountains all along the back of the venue. Honestly, if people weren't talking about how good the food was - they were commenting on how beautiful the location was!

As you can tell by my review - we were thrilled with our venue choice! Now I've been asked to list both the pro's and con's of the venue, and I think I've summed up the pro's rather nicely.

As far as cons go, there are really very few of them. Some may not even consider the following as "cons" as for the most part, they weren't deal breakers or anything. And they did not impact our wedding day one bit. But for the sake of being complete - I'll give you my short list:

1. Distance to location from Vancouver: If most of your guests are driving from Vancouver proper, it is a bit of a drive to get to the location. For those guests that wish to drink but don't have a designated driver, there is the option of taking a taxi (approximately $40.00 to central vancouver area) or transit (some of your guests may not want to be on the metro in their finery) or a combination of both. If it's within your budget, you may consider hiring a couple drivers and some vans to take your guests home at the end of the night. This con really was not a big deal to us. Our guests didn't complain about the distance of the location, and a shared cab between 4 guests really wasn't too costly.

2. Minimum spend for Saturday/Sunday booking. At the time that we booked the wedding, there was a minimum spend clause of 5000.00 on saturdays, and 4000.00 on sundays. But really, if you plan on having more than 80 people at your wedding, it shouldn't be an issue. If however, you plan on having a smaller wedding, it may be difficult to meet the minimum spend. Again - this really wasn't a huge con for us. We decided to go with a Friday night, and since most of our guests were from out of town, they planned on making at least a long weekend out of the event anyways. For local guests that had to work on friday, we had a 5pm ceremony, so most only needed to take off from work a few hours early.

3. Circular dinner tables. Originally, I liked the idea of using rectangular tables for the dinner, but unfortunately, there weren't enough to go around for the seating tables when combined with the buffet, gift, cake and guest book tables. We ended up going with the round dinner tables (seated 8 guests comfortably but could fit as many as 10) and in the end I was very happy with the results, so once again, this wasn't a huge con for us.

4. Linen Selection. The linens for the circular dinner tables were 90" squares - which means they don't drop all the way to the floor completely. The four tips of the square do, but the space between is about 2 feet off the ground. Also - they only have choice of white or black overlays. So if you want anything fancier - you may need to add linen rentals to your budget. I didn't like the idea of using white on white linens, along with white dishes. It just felt a bit too bland and cold for the style we were tring to achieve. But I didn't want to spend scads of money on linen rentals either. In the end we decided to have 90" square tablecloths made from burlap! Sounds weird right? It worked PERFECTLY! They added colour, and texture, and looked great as a backdrop to our centrepieces . AND they were only $5.75 per tablecloth to have them made! That's cheaper than renting tablecloths and we got to take them home after! Speaking of which.....aAnyone want to buy some burlap tablecloths? heh

5. Chairs - the chairs are comfortable to sit in, however the backs are black in colour while the padded areas are in neutral tones. At first I was worried they might detract from our overall look (oh no, black doesn't "go" with our woodsy, foresty, chartreuse/mango decor whatever will we do?!?). Seriously - they were fine. Sure we could have opted to rent chair covers, but once again, we didn't have the budget for it, and the covers we saw (during a pre-wedding visit), sat a little funny on the backs of the chairs; they weren't bad, but they weren't perfect either. I decided to let this one go - and I am so glad I did. Honestly - the only people noticing the non-matching chairs are you, and maaaaaybe a friend in the midst of planning her own wedding (so yeah - basically just YOU) ;)

Aaaaaaaaand that about sums it up! Anything else you want to know? Leave me a comment with your question and I'll be happy to answer 'em for ya!

Here are some of our professional photos that best capture the beauty of the DAC:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notable Photos!

Just a quick note to let you know that the reviews I'll be posting over the next couple months will not include many wedding photos.

Why you ask?

Well it's NOT because I enjoy torturing you, and it's certainly NOT because we don't have any, and it's definitely NOT because we aren't happy with our photographers (the exact opposite actually)!

You see - our amazingly wonderful photographers have submitted our wedding to REAL WEDDINGS magazine! And since it's a publication (duh), they obviously prefer that the weddings they choose have NOT been previously published - which includes putting photos on public blogs. Not that I have this massive following (or any following for that matter) but I don't want to go ruining any chance we have (no matter how slight it might be) you understand right?

So I'll post what I can, but you may have to wait a month or two for more detailed photos!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happily Ever After...

Wow - I wonder if there's an award for longest time span between posts? If there is, I think I should nominate myself! I have no idea how other blogging brides are able to keep their posts up to date in those last months before the wedding - all I can say is KUDOS to them! I had to give up that ghost long ago. And in the end, I'm glad I did as I was able to hold on to some semblance of my sanity.

Since the dust has settled, and things are "back to normal" for the English household - I figured - why not write about our wedding after the fact? I've had a few comments asking for our experiences with various vendors and venues - so let's do it!

Over the next few months, I'll review each of our vendors in turn, starting with the venue as that seems to be where most of the interest is. But make sure you check back for the rest, as we had the most amazing vendors - really they went above and beyond!

But before I get into the reviews, let me start out by saying:

Our wedding was the most wonderful, amazing, love filled, joyful, beautifully fantastic day of our lives (so far)!! Seriously - everything seemed to go off without a hitch. I was so worried about everything "falling into place" and in the end, everything worked out perfectly. When asked by other brides what I would have done differently after the fact, I honestly had to think about it. There were only a few very minor things that I might have done differently - but they didn't affect our enjoyment of the day one bit!

More to come...but for now I'll leave you with this photo teaser from our amazing photographers - Pelaez Photography:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Making it Official

I'm happy to announce, we've booked a marriage commissioner to officiate our wedding ceremony; another item checked off the list. Woohoo!

cartoon found here

Originally, we hoped to have a friend officiate the ceremony. In the US, anyone can legally marry a couple, if they become ordained through an online course offered by the Universal Life Church. Quick. Simple. Painless. However, after some quick research, I discovered that not just anyone can legally pronounce us "husband and wife" in BC.

Unfortunately, Canada does not recognize this simplified method of becoming an ordained minister. The protocol is more stringent, more time consuming, and more uhhhh "particular" up here; back to the drawing board we went.

In the Province of BC there are two categories of people licensed to perform weddings:

1. Religious Representatives - of which there are two types:
  • a pastor/priest/minister/rabbi associated with the specific house of worship where the wedding ceremony will be held
  • an ordained reverend or minister not associated with any specific house of worship
2. Marriage Commissioner (replacing the justice of the peace) through the Government of BC.

We decided to go with a private marriage commissioner as appointed by the Marriage Act of British Columbia, mainly because there is a set amount they are allowed to charge for their services. For a very reasonable fee of 75.00 (additional 25.00 for rehearsal), plus a mileage fee of .49cents a km, a BC marriage commissioner will perform your wedding ceremony. You can search for marriage commissioners in BC here

After reading through various recommendations on the "west coast" section of the weddingbells forum, we decided to give Bob Buzza a call. He had our date free, and asked for our pertinent information. He mailed us a basic wedding ceremony booklet, but encouraged us to create our own unique ceremony. For no extra fee, he meets with the couple before the wedding day to discuss their wishes, and perform a mock run through of the ceremony; he also encourages questions by email and/or phone.

Bob was a pleasure to speak with over the phone. He was warm and friendly, and made me feel comfortable right away; all good attributes to have in a marriage commissioner. He chuckled when he learned Huxley is our "best dog" and prefers when a couple creates a wedding ceremony unique to their personalities. All in all, he sounds like a great guy. I'll let you know more once we meet with him in person in the spring!

For further information on how to get married in BC, take a peek at the Vital Statistics of BC website.

If you prefer a more hands on marriage commissioner, and are willing to pay a bit more money for the experience, I've heard a multitude of good things about Reverend Brent Sheppard. The Rev falls under the second category of religious representatives. He is not governed by the province of BC, and therefor sets his own fees (350.00 + travel fee for ceremony and rehearsal), however, I've never heard a single complaint about the cost. If we had it in the budget, I would definitely have given him a call! Find out more at his website: Hey Rev

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Less than a year...feeling the pressure!

I can't believe it's September already! I always feel so old when I say that, but honestly, the time is just flying by.

When we first became engaged, we had 25 months to plan for the wedding. We chose a long engagement for a number of reasons. My brother was getting married in the summer of 2008 in Ontario, so we wanted to give everyone a bit of a break from all the wedding fever; we needed some time to save money, and I wanted plenty of time to plan. It was almost frustrating being that far out from the wedding, as I felt like there wasn't much we could do so far in advance.

I'd review the 12+ section of various online wedding checklists, and other than finalizing a budget, creating a guestlist, and searching for a venue, there wasn't much else listed! We even managed to finish a few "to dos" from the 9-12 month section.

Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we've jumped from 25 months to 10 months, and there are things on our checklist that aren't complete! And from what I understand, it's only going to get worse from here on in.

image source

Although I am feeling a bit of pressure, I am not feeling stressed. Something I know is a direct result of our choice to have a long engagement. Instead of searching for venues and photographers and competing with other brides for our date, we're working on invitation design, and centerpiece ideas.

So why the pressure? Because that 6-9 month checklist section is fast approaching, and there are a bunch of items on there that need to get done! Fall is upon us, Christmas is right around the corner, and before we know it, we'll be 6 months out from the wedding. When the planning started, the idea of getting married seemed so surreal. We were forever commenting "we have plenty of time" to browse magazines, read wedding blogs, collect photo references, and search out vendors; something we can't really say anymore ;)

Truth be told, I don't mind the pressure so much, as it means we're getting that much closer to the moment when my boyfriend/fiance finally becomes my husband! And that much closer to the HONEYMOON!! Can I get a woot woot!!